[A posthumous tribute I wrote on Dad’s 90th birthday]
As a very little girl, I used to love playing in a closet just off the back stairs. If I closed the door, I felt alone in a house otherwise teeming with people but safe in a world full of potential adventure and hidden treasures including hundreds of worn paperbacks, my mother’s colored array of high-heeled shoes, and stylish hats in hatboxes from another era.
Exploring in the closet one day, I played with the door’s heavy, brass lock and accidentally locked myself in. Suddenly, I didn’t feel safe anymore. Fun and adventure quickly turned to fear and isolation—feelings mostly foreign to me as a child. Even those dearest to me couldn’t help me escape. My mother couldn’t explain how to unlatch the lock, my brothers couldn’t unlock it from the outside, and my sisters couldn’t comfort me with their kind words.
Then my dad happened along.
I'm the twelfth of 13 children. I was born into a poor family rich in blessings. We lived in South Pasadena, California on top of a hill in a big house we called Tanner Manor. These are my stories of growing up there.