By Kristin Carlson
My David Gies story is unique. I did not meet David in a classroom or in Spain, I do not speak Spanish and have never been on Semester at Sea. I love him as a brother as that is what he is to me!
I first met David through a phone call from my oldest (or shortest as she prefers to be described) sister, Janna. She called to tell me that she had met someone. Janna was working at the Virginia Quarterly Review and her boss, Staige, had a frequent visitor to the office. Supposedly, David was just writing reviews, but he was quite proficient in his reviews that fall. He also claimed Staige’s dog, who was always at the office, needed attention. Eventually, David asked Janna out for dinner and they began to get to know each other.
I am one of five sisters and although we live all over the world, we are very close. I was tasked with checking this man out to see if he was too good to be true. So, my Mom and I made the trip out to Charlottesville to meet David. We were staying at Janna’s and in the morning there was a knock on the door. There stood the distinguished professor with a jar of peanut butter in his hand. What a perfect introduction to this man who pays attention to details and somehow knew that my mother loves her peanut butter for breakfast. The next few days we experienced his hospitality in many ways. He gave us tours of the university, entertained us with his stories, invited us to attend one of his lectures and, of course, fed us his world renowned paella. And for dessert, he pulled a spaghetti maker out of his bread box and proceeded to make noodles out of ice cream topped with strawberry sauce for the spaghetti sauce!
When I got home from the trip, I immediately received phone calls from the other sisters and I very happily reported that yes, David Gies did get our rousing approval. Or, in movie review language, two thumbs up. In November of that year, Mom and Dad and all the sisters gathered in Charlottesville for Janna and David’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony on the UVA campus and we were all thrilled for them and the start of a new chapter in their lives.
In the years since then, my respect and love for David has continued to grow. I have so enjoyed living vicariously through their many adventures. I am pleased and proud to brag about my famous brother-in-law who has been knighted by the King of Spain, honored by the University of Virginia with many accolades, is the world’s foremost authority of 18th Century Spanish erotic literature (or some such thing), and has even been on Jeopardy. But I have to say that for me, the most important thing about David is his presence as a wonderful husband, step-father, grandfather (Lito), uncle to my kids, and my brother. Thank you, David, for enriching all of our lives.