Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tami McClain-Cariaga sailing through the Universe

Tami and family, 1997
Today is the birthday of Tami McClain-Cariaga, the widow of my father, and the mother of my two youngest siblings, Chae and Seth Cariaga.

Tami is an amazing woman: indefatigable, smart, strong, kind, and tolerant. I have known Tami for 25 years now, as astounding as I find that to be. She's an excellent, responsible parent and a truly remarkable human being.

In my father's last years, as he was dying of Lupus and mostly bed-ridden, Tami not only cared for him, but fed, clothed, and cared for the two young children and the numerous animals under their care in the house on the shores of Klamath Lake. Now, nearly 7 years after Dad's passing, Tami continues to raise the two kids, more or less on her own, and maintain her house in Minden, Nevada.

Tami and Dad, near the end, 2001
She's an animal lover, having 3 dogs and 4 cats, each of which is well-cared-for and loved. She's a devout Catholic, involved in her church and community. She's an active and involved mother, making sure her two kids have plenty of activities from snow-boarding to Cub Scouts to soccer to any number of other extracurriculars. (She's also a excellent reminder for me that Republicans can be good human beings.)

There are so many things I admire about Tami. She laughs and smiles a lot. She is always positive, never downbeat. She laughs at even the most stupid of my jokes. But the trait I most particularly admire is Tami's kindness and her willingness to believe that people are, at their core, good and decent.

Tami's road has not been easy. Widowed at a young age, with 2 small children, I have never yet heard her complain about her lot in life. She's never even slowed down.

Tami and family, 2005
Well, Tami, you're definitely an inspiration to me. Just by leading your life with your natural courage and determination, you set an example that I can only dimly hope to follow.

Tami Cariaga sailing....sailing through the Universe!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Dade - you totally overdid the compliments and made me sound like a spectacularly breathtaking individual!! I loved every word, and have re-read it 28 times so far (just kidding!). You're beyond kind and I know I don't deserve all those praises, but it made my entire birthday-day to hear you say such sweet things! Mia & Calee are like my grown-up kids ("step" is such a cold word) and I have always looked at you and Eric and Paige as more my siblings than my "children!" - I love and appreciate all of you in my life. We've been through plenty of painful AND joyful moments, but we've also been a family for a LONG time (wow, 25 years!). Ross continues to be an amazing, faithful glue.
I get such great pleasure out of being around Chae and Seth - they're both so warmhearted and funny and affectionate, and I love how Seth LOOKS so much like his Dad (your dad!). But I especially love that all five of you older kids are there for ME just because you love and appreciate Chae & Seth like no one else can in this world. Chae & Seth are blessed to have a terrific extended family in Val & Steve, Don & MaryLou, grandparents, etc. But you five sibs are the ones they talk to every single day. They are fortunate kids!
Thank you again, Dade, for the great birthday wishes (I loved the photos - very emotional ones) and the opportunity to stop life's frantic pace today for about 10 minutes to mention how important all seven of you Cariaga kids are to me!
Love, tami