Peter and Suzanne Marinace are some of the most extraordinary (and hysterically funny) people you could ever want to meet! They were also amongst my brother, Tim’s, closest and dearest friends. Tim and Suzanne met in a class at Seattle Pacific University; and he and Peter forged a friendship around their quick wit and love of chess. Suzanne went on to be the kind of Kindergarten teacher that is remembered for life. I wanted to interview Suzanne here, because the Marinaces are definitely a couple that practices Leadership in some very interesting ways. I wish you could hear Suzanne laugh. Actually…you quite possibly have! She could be mistaken for the witch in the Wizard of Oz if you weren’t looking! It fills spaces far and wide for the ear to hear and is an invitation for others to join in! She chooses joy. As you are about to see, it is often a daily choice in spite of circumstances, and is a life mantra for her. Please welcome my dear friend.
“Oh my word, Teri, I really can’t believe you’re doing this.”
Me: “You have a tremendous story to tell!”
“Well, I’m sort of embarrassed…and nervous.”
Me: “You’ll be fine. You talk as much as I do. Go!”
“I was born in Mexico to missionary parents and raised in California. My dad had a church and my mom had to return to work; so my grandparents pretty much raised me. I think that that plays into me being an old soul. We were raised Mennonite Brethren, which is a very conservative German group, but not the group that “wears the buns.” You can put that in there, okay? I remember when Martha Stewart Living first came on the air and she was teaching people how to iron! I laughed and laughed because I had been ironing since I was 5! I’ve always written “paper thank you notes”, worked odd jobs to contribute to the family cash pot, and was the little girl sitting under the quilts at the gathering every Tuesday!
At the same time I’m very outgoing, and love to be on the stage, but in my talented family, I always considered myself to be very mediocre.
Peter and I married really young. We were 22 and 20 respectively.
I attended Seattle Pacific University which is where I met your brother. Tim was “me” in a man’s body. He was funny and so smart…wait, that’s going to sound really poor!
Your brother came from a family with similar values, he was a preacher’s kid, and we connected immediately! He was “my people.” Peter loved Tim. When we were together, or with extended family, it was just so natural and very, very fun. They were so quick! The wit of it all was just hilarious and hysterically funny; yet they never crossed a line in their humor or were off color. It was that hilarious “pee-your-pants” kind of laughing all the time!
Since Peter and I had married so young, we always had something going on. We were both from huge families and it never occurred to us that we wouldn’t have a large one of our own. Yet, we tried to conceive for 10 years and just couldn’t. Everyone had a reason why things weren’t working out for us. Peter’s career took him away on business a lot and the timing wasn’t right, I was too high strung, we needed a vacation. The list really was quite comprehensive. I remember going in for a final procedure and when it didn’t take, we decided to pursue adoption. This decision took six months of mourning to both transition and adjust. My physical body was also thrashed from all of the procedures that go with infertility and I needed a rest.
We decided to go through Bethany Christian Services domestic infant adoption program. We were now in our 30s and I was still teaching through all of this. Normally a home study takes roughly 2 years. Ours went off without a hitch in 6 months! I turned in my profile books on a Tuesday, and mentally began to settle in for the 6 months-2 years that it takes to be chosen. Two days later, I got a call! My case worker said, “Suzanne, are you sitting down?” She had to ask me that question more than once. When I replied, “I am now.” She said, ” You’ve been chosen! Your baby is going to be born in 4 weeks!” I was about to burst with excitement! Our suitcase was packed in the living room and I was swamped at school mentoring two new teachers. You couldn’t tell anyone in case things fell through, and I was about to burst with excitement.
Six weeks later, we got the call at 4:00 a.m. Daniel Cole was born, weighing 10 lbs. 4 oz.
At the time of the call, we didn’t know his gender. He was born at a very small hospital over an hour away. We jumped into our car and raced there; where we were greeted by a huge man with a grin on his face and a whole panel of nurses. It was his grandfather, and he was waiting for us! We were not supposed to meet his mother. She wanted a closed adoption. It was a lovely young girl that had gotten herself into trouble. Her dad said, “Wait here.” When he returned, he said, “Won’t you come and meet my family?” And there she was…his mom! I went to her and said, “You are so brave, and lovely and gracious! Thank you!”
His grandmother then turned to me and said, “Are you ready to meet your son?” His mother stayed back, but the rest of us went charging to the nursery…and there was Daniel!
I was crying so hard I couldn’t see. The family asked what his name was, and I said, “Daniel Cole. Cole because it’s cool, and Daniel, because my daddy’s name is Daniel and he’s the godliest man I know.” The attending physician in the nursery for the babies came over and said, “Is this who I think it is? The parents of this precious boy?” It was honestly a very holy and sacred time. He gathered us all around, including the grandparents and prayed over all of us. It was beautiful.
We have never seen them again, we don’t know one another’s surnames, we send pictures annually to them through the agency, and at 18 they would love to meet Daniel to see the young man that he has become.
When Daniel was still very young, Peter’s career took the Marinaces to London, England where they lived for several years.
What they didn’t know, was that there were some very dark days ahead…
The conclusion of this interview will be published Friday.
See you then!