Some Good News for a Change

Happy Friday, folks, how about some good news for a change?

While I was out doing my steps this morning, I was thinking about writing the blog and having trouble corralling it into a workable whole, because there are three distinct storylines that all need to come together. I guess I’ll follow directions from that old Sound of Music song and start at the very beginning.

When we bought this house, it was painted–inside and out–in Ralph Lauren BROWN, all brown all the time. The two exceptions were one even browner faux leather wall in the family room and the glossy gold lamé kitchen cabinets. Mary Grandma, my first mother-in-law, would have loved those cabinets. I did not, but I figured I could live with them for the time being. Our interior decorator, Jim Hunt, (Yes he’s Beau’s and Mel’s interior designer, too) replaced some of the brown with brighter colors, but for all too long the faux leather wall and gold cabinets remained. (The leather wall went away when the TV set died, and we discovered it had been built into the studs. The only way to install a new TV was to demolish the wall!)

A couple of years later, when Colt, our grandson, was five, I went shopping with him and his mom on a cold Saturday morning in October. Coming home, we came across a tiny, long haired miniature dachshund who had been abandoned on a nearby street. After an unsuccessful search for her owner, we brought the terrified waif here to the house. As Bill carried her inside, Colt was busy telling his grandpa how we’d ‘found this poor fella on the street.’” “Colt,” Bill said. “Fella is a boy’s name. This is a girl dog.” “Okay,” Colt said at once, “Then we’ll call her Bella.” After all, he had just seen Beauty and the Beast, and the name stuck. Bella soon became our beloved Bella, the Book Tour Dog. (For a Bella-based story, you might want to take a look at my ebook Novella, A Last Goodbye.)

A couple more years passed. While we were in Tucson one winter, a pipe broke in the house up here sending 185,000 gallons of water through the first floor. That necessitated new paint almost everywhere. When I complained to Jim Hunt about the gold lamé cabinets, he asked, “What color do you want them?” I held up my hand, nails polished with Big Apple Red, and said, “Make them match these.” So he did. Jim brought in a muralist who turned that ugly gold lamé into a wonderfully wood-grained red. Jim also set his muralist loose in our downstairs powder room, creating a magical interior that looks like a circus tent. But in one corner, the one behind the door, Jim told me, “I had him put a bit of whimsey.” That’s the photo you see here—an almost life-size portrait of Bella looking as though she’s climbing into the room through a hole in the non-existent wallpaper.

A year or so after that, a new man appeared in our lives, our personal trainer—Dan Kritsonis. He was part of the impetus that got me off my butt and stepping those steps. (17,215,000 as of today!) Through force of circumstance, Dan ended up bringing someone else to our house along with him—his newborn granddaughter, Athena. She had been abandoned at the hospital as a drug-addicted infant. Dan, a divorced single man in his sixties, spent weeks rocking the baby through withdrawal in the hospital nursery. Then he took her home with him and cared for her on his own for the next nine months! At that point, Athena’s auntie, Jessi, Athena’s birth-father’s younger sister, stepped up to the plate and said, “I’ll take her.” Which is how, at age twenty-three, Jessi became a single mom.

If you’re interested in reading this whole story, you can find what I wrote about this the first time by reading The Good Guys Won —posted two years ago this week. After rereading it now, I realize that Jessi was 23 at the time as opposed to 20, but otherwise the story remains correct. At the time I had already used Dan’s story of caring for his Athena as the basis for J.P. Beaumont learning about his Athena, an idea that morphed into the book Sins of the Fathers. The photo on that originally posted blog is of Athena at age three-and-a half holding her autographed copy.

The problem is, at the time I penned that now two-year old cheery note, we all—Dan included—thought everything concerning the adoption was a done deal and things would go smoothly after that. No, that’s not what happened. You may have heard a thing or two about supply chain issues in the world of commerce over the past couple of years. Evidently Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services has suffered from the same kind of thing because it’s taken another whole two years for the adoption to finally go through.

Last summer while visiting with Grandpa Dan on this side of the mountains, Jessi and Athena came by the house to see us, too. Mary and Jojo don’t much care for little ones, but for some strange reason, they both took a shine to Athena. And seeing that portrait of Bella in the corner of the powder room was a real hit.

Athena and Jessi

As I said above, this week the adoption finally came through in a hearing held at the courthouse in Spokane. After listening to people talk about Jessi and her fiancé, Tim, saying what they thought about them as people and as parents, the judge asked Athena to stand up and say what she likes about her mom. After that, when it was time to sign the paperwork, the judge—a woman—had Athena come stand beside her. Once she finished signing, she handed the gavel over to Athena and told her to bang it on the desk. Athena did so, and the judge pronounced, “Court’s adjourned.” Now the adoption really is a done deal. That’s Athena and Jessi holding the adoption paper. Incidentally, Athena now has a new middle name—Bella. And that’s entirely appropriate—she’s a beautiful child.

This week at age five-and-a-half, she finally heard the story of how she came into the world. When Jessi finished telling her she said, “Grandpa’s a hero!” Boy did she call that shot!

This weekend Jessi and Tim are getting married. Once that happens Athena will officially have a new stepbrother—Cooper. Athena will be the flower girl. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing Cooper will be the ring bearer. Grandpa Dan will be seated on the bride’s side of the wedding venue along with Athena’s other grandparents—Jessi’s parents who also happen to be the parents of Athena’s biological father.

As for Cooper? Nothing much will change for him. As far as he’s concerned—Grandpa Dan is already his grandpa.

And if that doesn’t qualify as good new, I don’t know what is.

29 thoughts on “Some Good News for a Change

  1. I will not be able to match the heroic path Dan Kritsonis took with Athena, but I hope to match his compassion with the babies of mothers with substance-abuse issues. I took a tour of the NCIU, where I will become a cuddler in the next few days/weeks, and was ready to begin my role immediately. Those tiny bodies looked so peaceful as they slept with cables snaking out from under their swaddling clothes.

    Unlike Dan, my role will be only a few days duration and only in three-hour shifts. I will now be thinking of Athena as that newborn lies on my chest or in my arms to be quieted and to know she is not alone.

  2. Thanks! I needed that. I have a Nephew that was at Childrens in Nick U as male RN during those children who were born Addicted to Drugs and or alcohol . We have even sat in Rocking chairs giving comfort to tiny Cherubs Going thru withdrawal. It takes special people to take on issues that last long into adulthood sometimes. Thanks again for being There and Giving your Experiences for the better good of all You and yours are a blessing to the rest of us. Chuck In Tacoma.

  3. Wow, kinda dusty in here all of a sudden. This is indeed delightfully good news all around. I love the little portrait of Bella. We had a long-haired mini Dachsie once and she made us believers despite being a whirlwind of mischief most days.

  4. My thoughts bounced all over, too, as I was reading this:
    Fond memories of choosing the paint colors for this house, now 12 years old. Only one room that I’d repaint if I had the energy/motivation.
    Bella stories always remind me of my sister’s dachshunds; they were such characters! She has a mini golden doodle now.
    Bella’s mural reminded me of some of my late mother’s work . She did some murals, and many paintings featuring animals.
    My own daughter’s blessedly brief stay in NICU, one of the more stressful weeks of my life. No lasting consequences.
    A lifetime’s parade of weddings in real life, and flashes on some fictional ones as well. I hope that Jessi and Tim’s big day does not include any misadventures!

  5. what a wonderful heartwarming ending for this family. Definitely good news. Thanks for this post.

  6. A precious sweet story…filled my heart and made me smile. Here’s to continuing happiness for this dear child and her family.

  7. I just had to tell you how much your blog this week touched my heart.
    I have enjoyed your blogs and BOOKS for ages but never felt like I had anything to add to all your many readers accolades.
    Through I feel like so many do about knowing you and your life this was the top of my list of “Best Of’s”.
    If I may, …Sending Love to Your Family and YOU.

  8. I love that Bella is part of your books and book tour.
    I haven’t read it yet, but I suspect A Last Goodbye has a sad ending?

  9. Such beautiful stories and beautiful photos-
    I love that Athena’s middle name is now “Bella-” She is indeed a lovely little girl-
    Colt certainly has great taste in feminine names!

  10. “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different, because I was important in the life of a Child” is one of my favorite quotes.

    Dan Kritsonis Is a true hero. Imagine if every child had one person who cared about them like Athena had! The world would be a much nicer place!

  11. Definitely this qualifies as good news–various pieces coming together like a beautiful puzzle. Must be wedding weekend–I’m going to one tomorrow where a former student is marrying his high school sweetheart, and his sister (also a former student) is the MC at the reception. After we finished making the salads this morning, we stood in a circle and prayed for the wedding day, and somebody prayed that it would be filled with joy. May Jessi and Tim, Athena and Cooper, also have a day–and a life–filled with joy.

  12. Started reading this and my tears started flowing… happy, beautiful tears for Athena Bella, Grandpa Dan, Jessi, Cooper, Tim and everyone. ?

  13. In my old age I have discovered my poles must have flipped. Bad news makes me angry and good news makes me cry. Bawling like a baby, again. I have noticed your books and stories do that to me. I would rather not be angry my whole life, but that is a hard sell in the world right now. Thank you!

    • I feel the same way-
      I just read that, medically, resentment is not good for our health, so I am trying to feel less of it- However, I think a lot of us are afraid, and trying to fend off fear with anger- Perhaps we need to try meditation- I am serious-
      Judy’s novels are very therapeutic in that justice triumphs, and so does love-

  14. I can tell from the story and the picture that Jessi is a beautiful young lady both inside and out. Tim is a very blessed young man. Blessings on Tim, Jessi, Cooper, and Athena and their life together.

  15. What a beautiful story! It gives me hope that come September my daughter and son in-law can be done with the foster care system and the adoption will go through making me a officially a grandma for the second time. She is special needs and has thrived beyond everyone’s expectations since being placed with them. She wasn’t taken from the mom until 2 1/2, even after being born drug addicted and a long hospital stay she fell through the system. She was severely malnourished, didn’t know how to walk or crawl, was non-verbal, couldn’t eat solid foods, and more due to neglect at 2 1/2. She spent nine months being fostered by older grandparents that tried but were not able to give her what she needed. She’s only been with us since a few weeks before Easter and she is talking, not much but getting there, eating solid food, receiving eating, speech, physical and other therapies and being showered with love. My husband is living in Michigan to help get this little girl all the help she needs and I fly out as much as I can. One of us has to work LOL

    Then we will be on to the next adoption, my son in-laws daughter whom he has had full custody of since she was a newborn. We are in the process of the mother’s rights being terminated so my daughter can legally adopt her, she’s the only mother this little girl has ever known. These two girls are half-sisters (same bio mom but different dads) and the loves of my life!

  16. Thank you for a beautiful heart warming blog about two people that I know, Dan Kritsonis and he is a marvelous person so it wasn’t a surprise that he did what he did. Dan is my x brother in law although I refer to him as a brother in law. Dan has kept
    me and my sister Barbara up to date on Athena, I am very grateful for this.
    The second is my beautiful great niece Athena, she has been through a rough time but with the loving care of grandpa Dan and Jessie she has blossomed into this amazing girl.
    I am very happy that Jessie and Tim are getting married and are her parents. Athena’s happiness is top priority.
    I look forward to having more time to read your next book. Lil/Muggsy

  17. I loved the JP book about Athena, as I do most all of them. This was a great ending to the story. Good things do still happen to good people. I’m glad you posted this wonderful story with it’s beautiful ending.

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