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Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Lives We Touch- guest post

Guest post by my brother. I feel like I should give an intro full of superlatives, because I love him and his family and want everyone else to like them too. But I don't want to take up your time when you could be reading the post.
Enjoy:

Around 30 years ago my family lived in the Panama Canal Zone. As could be expected, our parents found friends who had kids around our age and we kids played together as the parents socialized. Over the years, my parents kept in touch with them and the moms in particular stayed very close, even to the point of discussing plans to travel out together to see each other’s kids. Outside of that relationship our families had no other interaction and I never kept in touch with the kids I used to play with. My knowledge of her doings was relegated to being Facebook friends with her, Facebook being a social medium I subscribe to but generally ignore. Given the transient nature of the life of a military brat, it was typical that we kids would lose touch with our erstwhile friends after we moved to a new duty assignment and started new lives, attended a new school, and made new friends. It goes without saying that I have little recollection of most of my playmates from my youth, and have connected (or attempted to connect) with even fewer.

*****

When school started this past August, my wife made a friend at the bus stop when dropping our son off at school. Her family was new to Germany (where we are stationed) and she didn’t know anyone yet. Her husband was back in the states for training; one of their sons was in the same grade as ours. The girls hit it off right away, occasionally going for coffee and chit chatting after seeing the kids off every morning. After her husband got back from training last month, we all went for dinner a couple times. Instead of doing a huge Thanksgiving dinner, we decided to go out to dinner at a restaurant we really enjoyed, and invited our new friends.

*****

After we got home from dinner we happened to notice a familiar face in some photos on my brother’s godmother’s Facebook page. It turned out my wife made friends with the wife of my playmate from Panama. They had moved in just a couple blocks from us and our wives had become friends and we never realized there was a whole other connection between us. After losing both parents this year I had no expectation to celebrate Thanksgiving with anything but a couple new friends. We are thousands of miles away from any other family members. This previously undiscovered connection with our friends, coming out on the first major holiday without my parents, felt surreal and almost guided by their hand from beyond the grave. In the military, family sometimes has less to do with the bond of blood and more the bond of brotherhood. In this case, my parents’ relationship is eerily reminiscent of ours: living in another country, making friends, hanging out, even our kids are around the same age as we were when we used to play together. The moral of the story is that you never know when the lives you touched in the distant past may magically resurface in the unlikeliest of places. What a small world we live in.

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