Today is our youngest daughter’s fifth birthday. Collins Monroe has brought so much happiness into our lives in her short five years with us. She changed our family of five, to a family of six – completing us entirely.
My mom, Carol Thompson, wrote the most beautiful tribute to Collins after she was born. Written a day before, and published on, the day my mom was very first hospitalized for a fatal brain tumor, it will forever remain one of my most prized possessions. I read it through tears, feeling the love my mom had for all of us, knowing how proud she would be of the beautiful little girls Kendall and Collins are growing to be.
Happy Birthday, sweet Collins. We love you more than you will ever know.
Carol McFeeters Thompson
Welcome to the world little baby girl, drawing your first breaths just as summer is beginning and the cottontail rabbits are dancing in the meadow. I wish you long life, good health, and abundant joy as you discover the wonders of the world along the journey of your life. America is rich in scenic vistas and awesome spectacles that I hope to share with you and your sister as you grow.
I want to show you Yellowstone, America’s (and the world’s) first national park, home to grizzly bears, moose, gray wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk, a wonderland of geothermal marvels that overlies a subterranean chamber of molten rock and superheated gases. One of our biggest triumphs as a country has been to set aside the most magnificent pieces of Earth to be preserved for the children of the future. Surrounded by majestic mountains along the Grand Loop Road, we’ll walk beside paint pots of colorful hot mud that bubble and sputter, and watch in awe as powerful geysers erupt water and steam, spouting high into the air. We’ll discover ancient trees buried by ash and mud, their wood transformed to colorful minerals, and mountains of mysterious black volcanic glass.
We’ll canoe the Boundary Waters of northeastern Minnesota, beckoned by pristine blue waters and murmuring forests of green velvet pines and paper-white birches, with the sun at our backs and the wind in our hair. We’ll retrace the routes of the gay voyageurs; and walk the portages we walked with your mother when she was your age; and relive the fishing trips I shared with my father when I was a girl. We’ll glide across the glacier-scoured wilderness lakes of the Canadian Shield, and camp on its boulder-strewn shorelines, falling asleep to the quiet kiss of waves against the shore and the haunting yodels and tremolos of calling loons at dusk. We’ll watch the shimmering aurora borealis play on the inky blackness of the night, its eerie green glow allowing the stars to shine through.
Let’s traverse a gently-rising desert plateau to be suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with a deep gash gouged into the crust of the Earth, leaving you as awe-struck as I was when I discovered the Grand Canyon for the first time. We’ll peer into the immense gorge, a steep-sided canyon a mile deep, carved by the Colorado River to expose two billion years of geological history. Perched on the rim, we’ll share sweeping views of the intricate and colorful landscape as we look back in wonder through the aeons of geologic time.
Oh, the places I’ll show you!
We’ll stand at the brink of one of the wonders of the world, straddling the Canadian border where the Niagara River drains from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario in a thundering cataclysm. The river explodes over the rim of a horseshoe-shaped precipice in a spectacular, breath-taking cataract that plummets into a roiling pool of foaming rapids. We’ll hear the roar of the falls plunging headlong to the bottom, watch the water trace lazy rivulets across the rocks, see rainbows in the mist, and feel the cool dampness on our skin.
I want to walk barefoot across the warm sugar white beaches of South Florida festooned with colorful shells. We’ll watch the ocean change color from soft green aquamarine to deep blue ultramarine. We’ll see sunrises, and sunsets, and twinkling stars reflected on the waves. We’ll watch showy white egrets with long feather plumes and bright golden slippers wade in the shallows and see silvery pods of frolicking dolphins break the surface of the water out in the depths.
And the wonders we’ll discover!
We will witness the grand spectacles of one hundred thousand migrating sandhill cranes along the Platte, twenty thousand broad-winged hawks boiling over the ridges above Lake Superior at Duluth, and a quarter million Brazilian free-tailed bats streaming out of Carlsbad Caverns at dusk. We’ll ponder the mysteries of the great civilizations of the mound builders at Cahokia rising above the prairie on the banks of the confluence of great rivers, the ancient and mysterious Anasazi cliff dwellers of Colorado at Mesa Verde, and the fossil remains of the giant thundering lizards of Utah at the Dinosaur Natural Monument.
Welcome to the world sweet baby girl. Welcome to a lifetime of adventure and mystery, a world filled with wonder and beauty. I am privileged to be able to guide you and your sister on this voyage of discovery. I wouldn’t miss a moment!