April 16 is a special day for me and I’ve found it to be that way for lots of people. Of course, for me it’s special because it’s Susie’s birthday. And it’s Susie’s namesake Susie Campbell’s birthday also. Susie’s dog, Tilly, lives in the Methow Valley with Brad Martin who is celebrating his big day today.
For several years I have wanted to plant a tree for the family of Michael Anderson, the Spokane astronaut who was killed ten years ago in the Columbia space shuttle disaster. I knew his family still lived here but it’s hard to find an Anderson when you don’t know how they are listed in the phone book. I found that a former coworker at the library had a connection to the Anderson family and he said he would get me a phone number. He’s a wonderful guy, but very forgetful and despite several reminders he couldn’t seem to remember to get me the info. Luckily, one day last year I spotted his sister at a department store and she was able to give me the number of a family member and through her I finally spoke to Michael’s mother.
Barbara Anderson said she would like to have a Susie Forest tree and we decided to put off the planting until this year because of her busy schedule. When I spoke to her early this year she thought it would be nice to plant the tree on her birthday. “When is that?” I asked. “April 16th,” she answered. “Wow! We’ll plant two trees that day!” And we did – a Persian Parrotia for Barbara and a Hedge Maple for Susie. Many friends came and we ate cake and talked about these two wonderful people we lost too soon.
Susie is still influencing people eleven years after her death. Jack and I decided to celebrate her birthday by eating at an Asian restaurant. I told the waitress why we were eating there and gave her bookmarks. She read one and asked me to hand another to coworker right then because he needed to see it. He read, “Today’s lesson: If you don’t like where you are, pedal.” “There are things going on in my life and I needed to see this. Thank you.” He thanked me several times before we left. Thank you, Susie, for still being there for people.