ANNIE & GIA Chapter X. The End and The Beginning

If I were to write a book about my life, I guess it can be simply divided into two chapters: Before The Party, and After The Party AKA The End of My Life as an Orphan and The Beginning of My Life with a Family. Why such a long title for the second chapter? Coz it’s my favorite of the two, can’t you tell?”

Before the party, I was like a tiny mouse, alone and scared, terrified of the cat, barely just surviving.

After the party, I became a mighty mouse, not The Mighty Mouse, but a mighty mouse nonetheless, because I got a mom, a dad and a sister, all in one night. Isn’t it amazing? And it’s not even Christmas!

In case you’re wondering who won “the most miserable life” contest between me and Gia, Mom and Dad said it was a tie, but that from now on, we should try to erase the memories of the miserable life and work on a wonderful life together, all four of us. That will work. I have no objections to that.

They also said that since it was a tie, Gia and I both deserve the European trip, and that since they signed on as judges, then they both get to go, too. Hehehe. That will work, too. ( I think Dad is just looking for any excuse to get some alone vacation time with Mom. He’s been giving mom googly eyes and I told her that and she just giggles. Some funny business going on between these two, I tell you.)

We have also decided to all work in the family business. Mom and Dad continued their roles as CFO and CEO, respectively, while I am being groomed to be COO. Hahaha. I wish. Actually, I work in the accounting department and Gia is in advertising and marketing. Gia said she wants to be CorSec someday because she’ll put the Va-va-voom in the Secretary position. I don’t know what she means by that exactly, I’m almost afraid to find out, but I just give her a thumbs up. I just let Gia be Gia coz she puts the fun in funny. Again, her words, not mine.

All four of us work our butts off Monday to Thursday so we get to enjoy three-day weekends together. No exception. Except when we go on two-week summer and winter vacations like Mom promised. (I’m putting this in writing so when Mom reads this, she knows she can’t back out.)

We’re trying to make up for lost time, that’s eighteen years mind you, so we try to do a lot of fun things together. Mom said she’s willing to try anything but hang gliding and jumping off the plane. I’m with her on that one!

Once, we went to the beach and boy, Mom can still rock a bikini. Dad couldn’t take his eyes—and hands— off her. We had to tell them to get a room! These two, acting like teenagers!

We also like to go camping. Surprisingly, Mom and Gia are good at this, cooking over campfires and doing other Girl Scout stuff. Hey, just because I roughed it out in an orphanage doesn’t mean I know how to start fires with two sticks. We had matches!

I wasn’t entirely useless at camping. My old guitar came in handy for some campfire singing. Mom, Dad and I would take turns at playing the guitar. Gia couldn’t play, so one time she insisted on doing interpretive dancing to “Another One Bites The Dust.” She almost bit the dust, all right, knocking over a boiling pot and almost costing us dinner, if not for Dad’s quick save.

Dad proved to be such an excellent story-teller. One night, his campfire story was so scary that Gia and I refused to sleep in our tents. We all crowded into theirs. We barely had any room to move. Or breathe. Then somebody farted in the middle of the night and wouldn’t own up to it. Mom said that was the last time anybody was telling scary stories on her watch.

Even though they denied it, I think they enjoyed having us there. Mom even sang us a lullaby to help us fall aleep. That was a treat. I know Gia must have fallen asleep with the biggest smile on her face. I know I did.

Life just feels like one big adventure after another now.

Shopping on our girls’ day out.

Going to work with identical blonde wigs and glasses to freak Dad out.

Contest on who’s the biggest goofball. (Believe me, Dad always wins.)

Every day feels like Disneyland and I’ve never even been there yet.

We not only do the fun outdoor stuff, we have also learned to just enjoy each other’s company at home.

We raided Dad’s man cave one day and found a fridge full of candy bars and fruit juices. So that’s where we got our sweet tooth from! He let us play his video games all day long. Mom enjoyed the violent shooting games so much that Dad said he will have to restrict her playtime: he didn’t want to encourage her violent streak.

When it was Mom’s turn, she had us repotting her orchids and touring her hydroponic farm. After that, she rewarded us with a big picnic. The salad was from her vegetable garden. Organic and fresh. Yum.

Gia’s idea of a fun day was to find any stray animal and give them a bath. Judging from the reaction, especially the cats, the critters don’t appreciate a bath as much as Gia thinks they do. The good thing about this is, we haven’t seen a stray cat or dog roaming our streets since then.

And to cap the night, Gia had us learning some disco dance moves. YMCA, anyone?

My idea of fun? Just spending time with each other, eating meals together, playing board games and just relaxing.

Then Gia got bored and asked if we could take the convertible out for a spin so we could give them some “alone” time. Dad couldn’t get rid of us fast enough!

Living in a mansion takes getting used to. There’s so much space for just four people. There’s a billiard room, the study, the family room and the living room. Let’s not forget Dad’s man cave and Mom’s she shed. I think the whole orphanage can even fit here. And don’t get me started on the pool and the backyard!

The house has five bedrooms so Mom and Dad gave us free rein over them, except for the master’s. So we saved one bedroom for guests and then decided that both Gia and I get separate bedrooms each, then a common bedroom for me and me. What fun!

This is where we have our pillow fights, our midnight snacks and our sleepovers. Yep, since we both never knew what it was like to have a sister, we wanted to experience that. Besides, who wouldn’t want to wake to this every morning!

Mom allows Gia and her biological mom to get in touch over the phone, but they cannot be alone together for now. Mom said she has to earn our trust first. Ditto with me calling her Auntie. As for her visiting us, Mom says she’s gonna sue her for aggravated kidnapping if she so much as sets foot in the house or lays eyes on Dad again, half-sister or not. I think that’s a threat Magda should take very seriously.

As for Mother, she has continued on her path to redemption as she calls it, and is now a director for troubled kids. I’m sure she’ll make an excellent one.

I wonder if it really was just a series of coincidences that lead to this happy place in my life or did God have this in the Master Plan all along. Do I appreciate family more because I was once an orphan and would I have taken everything for granted if I wasn’t? I will never really know the answer for sure. All I know is that when we have each other, we have everything.

In parting, let me share with you this quote in the hope that it will inspire you…

“Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. And having both is a blessing.”

May you always be blessed with a home to go to and a family to love.

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