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I: HER LIFE


acoustic guitar in her bedroom. The loft rooms had no ceilings, so we could hear as she gently strummed and sang—songs of Adele and Indigo Girls, and a gentle, understated rendition of “Broken Hallelujah”—but she would never let us come into the room and listen. Though her voice was soft and pleasant, she wouldn’t even consider playing at the annual family reunion at the Gelbuda house in Ottawa with her Uncle Brian and Great Uncle John and the rest. Whenever we pressed her as to why she wouldn’t let anyone hear her play, she said it was just something she liked to do for herself.


From early childhood on, she saw much of the country, and some of the world. We


visited southern California several times when she was little to see Grandpa Jim, Mickey Mouse and the ocean. She saw the battlefields at Gettysburg and the beaches of Florida—where she ate so many oysters that she got sick, then came back for more. There were several trips to Colorado to play in basketball tournaments and ride horses. There was a Caribbean cruise that included time in New Orleans and stops in Belize, Cancun, Cozumel and Roatan; Mack snorkeled, rode a four-wheeler through a jungle, petted dolphins. The family traveled to Ireland in 2002, not long after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Mack, then eight years old, wore a New York Yankees cap throughout the trip as we explored castles. Savannah moved to Spain after college, and we visited her there with Mackenzie in 2011.


We explored the small Medieval town of Zafra where Savannah lived, and took day trips to Seville, Portugal and Gibralter. Mackenzie, then seventeen, liked the meat and the olives, the wine, and all the attention she got from the older boys during the all-night party that Savannah threw for us. There were stone streets and walks through the ruins of castles, which had fascinated Mack since she had seen Ireland years earlier. It was that trip that introduced Mack to the country she would later choose for her semester abroad.


> ^ Zafra, Spain, 2011 21


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