The inner child
Smart and Sassy
To Erin,
     A few days ago, I was writing in my daily journal about a recent visit with my granddaughter, Erin. As a summarizing comment I wrote, "She's so smart and sassy." I was pleased with how well the description fit Erin and called downstairs to my wife Cathy to tell her, "How's this for a verbal picture of Erin: 'Smart and sassy'?" Cathy said that it was just right! Cathy had just ordered a wedding gift for you and Matt and had you on her mind; she thought I was talking about you. We chatted for a while before we realized that we were talking about two different Erins. We both realized that the phrase fit you both equally well. 

     Today we think about you as the third Dr. Bialas, the accomplished athlete, the bride-to-be. But, some of us remember an earlier version that just might still lurk inside of you. When Cathy reminded me that I'm your godfather, I remembered you as an infant at your Christening - you couldn't do much then, but you were a charmer. My most vivid memory of you as a child occurred when you were a toddler and we were visiting your family in Florida. We were all out at the swimming pool where you were continually going back and forth, swimming underwater and looking like a small dolphin. I couldn't believe how long you could hold your breath and how much stamina you had. I often think back on that day; I've never seen another child do anything like that. 

     I also remember another day on the water when my daughter Katie, your sister, Stephanie, and you and I went on a whitewater rafting trip on the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle State Park south of Pittsburgh, PA. We had a well-run raft, captained by yours truly, and had quickly mastered two of the four basic skills of rafting: "paddle left" and "paddle right. " We didn't have a chance to practice the other two skills, but we definitely had a chance to use them that day. We were crossing a rapid in the swiftest part of the river when we encountered a "T" formed by a huge boulder right in our path. I guess we couldn't decide which way to turn because we ended up going straight into the big rock. We had been instructed verbally in the third skill, standing up on the side of the raft farthest from the obstruction to avoid being pinned inside the raft. We executed  the maneuver with the polish that only a well-led team can manage (ahem), but found ourselves pinned against the boulder on the outside of the raft with no hope of moving off. We were all young and strong, so we climbed up on top of the rock and left our raft pinned below. With great difficulty, we hoisted the raft up on the rock and talked about how to execute the fourth skill: getting back in the raft. We decided to toss the raft in the river and jump into it as it sped away. I jumped first and landed in the boat as it moved swiftly downstream. I didn't think that anyone else would be able to make it, but all of a sudden, using what I've always thought of as the "flying squirrel" move, you and Stephanie landed in the raft. Katie hesitated a moment and missed the boat. She had her own fun as she leaped into the boiling river and hung onto a support kayak. I don't remember how we recovered our paddles, but somehow we made it to shore to regroup. Great fun!

     With all of your past and future accomplishments, I hope that you remember that fun-loving inner child with the jelly smeared on her smiling face and I hope that this (present of the "jellyface" poster) helps. I wish you and Matt all of the best that life has to offer.

With Love,
Your Godfather,
William G. (Uncle Bill) McArthur
June 17, 2002