Easter has a special significance for many people as a time of resurrection, but for the Quiroz-Morton family, Easter weekend had the distinct flavor of homecoming and reuniting of family.
Laura Morton had the distinct pleasure of welcoming her four sons, all together for the first time ever, into her home to spend several days of reuniting and connecting with, not only her as their mother, but with each other.
Twenty-six year old second son, Andy Quiroz, currently a sergeant in the Army, said, "This is the first time we've all been together in the same room ever."
The story has as many twists and turns as Deep Creek, and is just as fascinating.
As a single parent, Laura and her three oldest sons moved to Bonners Ferry in 1994. Oldest son, Ryan Quiroz, attended Bonners Ferry High School and moved to California to live with his father during his senior year of high school. Second son, Andy Quiroz, BFHS class of 2000, moved to California the day after he graduated from high school to live with his father as well. During Andy's senior year, Laura found that she and her husband, Mel Morton, were expecting. Third son, Matt Quiroz moved to California to live with his father shortly after fourth son, Bill Morton was born in 2000.
The large age difference between Laura's first three sons and her fourth son is the reason the four brothers had never all been together before.
It may have taken nearly nine years to get the boys together, but it finally happened this Easter weekend.
"The whole thing that started this reunion," said Laura "is that we found out that Andy is getting deployed. Mel was actually the one who said, 'We need to get them together.' He knew I just needed to touch them and look at them, and just be with them in case something happened. Mel decided that we would pay for the boys and their wives to fly in and said, 'We're just going to make it happen.'"
Thursday, April 8 will go down in Quiroz-Morton family history as Reunion Day, and what a busy Reunion Day it was.
Andy, 26 years old, and his wife Crissy flew in from California and arrived at Laura and Mel's home first. Then Andy and Mel drove to Spokane to pick up 17-year-old Matt from the airport. While they were gone, Ryan, 30 years old, his wife Amanda and their daughter Kayli arrived from White Fish, Montana where they live. When Andy, Matt and Mel returned and the three older brothers saw each other for the first time in years, Laura said that they were hesitant and nervous at first, but then they all hugged in a group hug. They sat and talked for a period until the youngest brother, Bill, eight and a half years old, returned from Naples School.
There was another group hug, complete with a few well-hidden tears.
According to Matt, "It felt good. Everything's different, but it is still the same."
Ryan concurred with his younger brother.
"I know it means a lot to my mom," he said. "It's huge for her. We've all grown so much. I'm married, Andy is married, Matt is turning 18 soon and Bill is turning 9. It's cool to catch up with everyone."
Laura said that the best part of having her sons all together was the reminiscing, telling old stories and new ones. She said that the good-natured, brotherly teasing, camaraderie, laughing and sharing is what she will cherish most about this memorable weekend.
"We've had time to talk about real stuff," she said. "I like to dig deeper on a more real level. Our family is all about reconnection right now. It's been such a joyful experience. I just wanted them to be able to sit and talk to each other, and I hope this reconnection will continue throughout the rest of their lives."
Mel said, "Laura mentioned that her jaws kept hurting from smiling so much, and the same thing happened to me. It's been a lot of fun."
Unfortunately though, all good things must come to an end. Andy and Crissy will return to California where he will wait for his deployment in June, while Crissy attends college in a pre-med program. Ryan, Amanda and Kayli will drive back to White Fish where Ryan works as a chef and Amanda tends bar. Matt will fly back to Arizona where he lives with his father and step-mother to finish his senior year of high school. Come Monday morning, Bill will head back to Naples School on the bus just like any other school day.
"I am unbelievably proud that my sons all turned out so well," said Laura. "They had a difficult adolescence after moving here, but now they are all happy, handsome and good citizens."
Ryan hopes that the brothers will not drift apart again now that they have reconnected.
"It's been like a Jackson Five reunion," he chuckled.
Laura said she feels very certain that her sons will be together again soon.
"When Andy gets back from Iraq," Matt said, "instead of having a going away reunion, we'll have a coming home reunion."