My Niece Turns 30! When The Heck Did That Happen?

On August 6th, 2018 my niece Doreen turns 30.  Where did the last 3 decades go? It seems like just yesterday she was born. A couple months later Doreen was baptized at St. Luke’s Church in Elmhurst.  On the program issued to guests that day we printed the lyrics to Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young” which was a popular song at the time and remains one of my favorites of his.  That December, Doreen played baby Jesus in the St. Luke’s Christmas play.

Baby D and one of her music toys

My mother and I often welcomed who we called “Baby D” to our house for overnight stays.  In the early morning I’d come into Baby D’s room and she’d already be standing up in her crib, hair all mussed up, big smile on her face and ready to take on the day.  My parents, known as Grandma Dorie and Grandpa Ken, adored their first grandchild and embraced all the joys that go with being a grandparent.  Day trips to parks, lakes, going out to eat and anything else that could be imagined.  Doreen was WAY into the animated movie “Beauty and the Beast” and I remember taking her to see it (at her insistence) four Saturdays in a row!

Baby D and her adoring dad Jack

My niece Doreen later became known as Dei. She went through all the requisite stages of growing up;  Grade school, high school, part time jobs, (one as a master shoe seller) first car, college and beyond.  Dei inherited her mother Maryanne’s pragmatic ways of saving money for a specific goal and her adoring father Jack’s ability to handle any hurdles or difficulties that got in her way in a calm and smart manner.

Kindergarten aged Doreen held and hugged by her mom Maryanne

My niece married Nick, the love of her life in 2012. Now she’s known as Dei Forslund, who works as a procurement specialist for the University of Wisconsin and a cycling instructor at a local gym near her home in Madison Wisconsin.  Dei and Nick have already enjoyed travels to foreign lands that I’ll probably never see and her love for movies and fine food and drink keeps her on the move with friends and family.

I remember how brokenhearted Dei was when her mother passed away in 2014. Dei learned losing your mom when you’re only twenty-six years old sucks out loud.  She paid tribute to my sister by getting a really cool tattoo of a Boston Terrier in homage to her mom who loved and raised several of those sweet dogs.  Dei has other tattoos and seeing her express passions in those ink works is always fun.

Dei is all grown up and we could not be more proud of her

For years my sister Maryanne battled a difficult and ultimately fatal auto-immune disease and she wanted to live long enough to see Dei and her brother Mike grow up and get out on their own. Thankfully, she made it to that goal.  I know how proud she was and still is of both her kids.

So on this milestone birthday, let me take you back to Saturday August 6th,  1988. My brother in law Jack drove Maryanne to Good Samaritan Hospital in preparation for her labor to be induced.  My mother was on hand too and all day I waited at home for a call to see how things were going.  We didn’t even know if Mary was having a boy or girl.

That night I was going to Poplar Creek Music Theatre to see the band Chicago with my radio colleague John Howell. I finally had to leave the house at 7 p.m. with no word yet on the pending baby delivery.  John and I hosted some WCKG listeners in a luxury box at the concert. Now this was before the advent of everyone owning cell phones so throughout the first set I kept wondering how my sister was doing.

Finally, during the concert’s intermission I slipped out to a pay phone in the plaza and called home. My mom had just come back from the hospital and I learned Doreen Opal Nagy finally came into the world, healthy and happy and her mom was doing great too.  Whew! What a thrill that night was and I proudly told our luxury box guests about my newborn niece. We toasted Doreen with cold cans of Miller Genuine Draft beer.

My sister named her baby Doreen in honor of our mom Dorie and her middle name Opal was for my mom’s sister Opal who had passed away 7 years earlier.  Maryanne was always good for thoughtful gestures and tributes such as this.  Still, the most important thing was a precious new life to love was now in the world.

My favorite photo of Dei. She was about 3 here. My mother (her Grandma Dorie) took my new ‘First Church of Elvis’ T-shirt and sewed it into a nightgown for her beloved granddaughter. 

Happy Birthday Dei!  She’s 30, yet no matter how old she gets, I’ll always think of ‘Baby D’ being what she is to me: “Forever Young.”

Click below for Rod Stewart’s song “Forever Young.”