September 27th and 28th – Michigan
We met Mary Beth on a Caribbean cruise almost 20 years ago. Seated together randomly at lunch we hit it off and asked to be assigned a table together for the rest of the trip. We turned into THAT table. People either wanted to join us, because we were laughing so loud, or they wanted to be on the other side of the dining room – because we were laughing SO LOUD.
It turned out that we had a lot in common, including our recent battles with infertility. We bonded and became instant friends. Before the cruise ended, I found out that she had relinquished a baby for adoption as a young teenager, and that her biological daughter lived in California only a few miles from where Tim and I lived.
Although she had made many attempts to have contact with her bio-daughter (Leslie), she had not been allowed.
Fast forward a few years. Leslie was now over 21, living on her own and made contact with her, saying she would like to meet her bio-mom. Mary Beth was excited and nervous. I offered for her to stay at our home, to pick her up at the airport, and drive her to that 1st meeting. It turned out to be a special, moving moment for all of us.
Fast forward once again. Mary Beth and her then husband, decided to adopt an infant from Guatemala. Their daughter, Sophia is now 12 years old and stunningly beautiful.
A few years later, Mary Beth, now a single parent, decided she wanted to adopt another daughter and invited Tim and me to go to Guatemala with her when she was to meet her six weeks old daughter, Gabriella.
So, in December 2006, I was privileged to once again be with her when she met another daughter for the first time.
As fate would have it, that trip to Guatemala had another huge impact on Tim and me. The woman seated next to MB on her flight was involved with a charity that was building schools for Mayan children, among other worthwhile projects. We ended up meeting Penny, the founder of “Miracles in Action” a few days later.
After returning to Los Angeles, Tim and I contacted Penny to learn more about the work she was doing. As a flight attendant for American Airlines, she was scheduled to be in L.A. in a couple of days, and we agreed to meet for dinner. By the end of that meeting Tim and I were invited to return to Guatemala in a few weeks to see more of the work they were doing and to attend two school grand openings.
We were asked if we would bring two duffel bags filled with donated shoes as part of our checked luggage. We were glad to do it, and agreed to meet two other volunteers near the airport where we would get the bags of shoes from them. That couple turned out to be Dick and Karen Theil. One of the schools that was just completed had been built due to a donation made by Jan and Gary Jantzen.
Anyone that has been following our blog for any length of time, might recognize those names. Since that fateful meeting, the six of us (Tim and I, Dick and Karen, Gary and Jan) have traveled together to Spain, Morocco, Peru, several times to Guatemala, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, India, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and met up in Scotland.
But back to my original story of meeting Mary Beth.
We have reunited several times in California when she has flown out to see her daughter Leslie, but I had never made it to Michigan to see her. We finally rectified that when we stopped by to spend two nights with her on Friday.
It turned into a whirlwind visit that included me getting put back together a little with a Mani/Pedi, followed by lunch where I finally got to meet her sister, Karen. The afternoon included a visit to see Meadow Brook Hall.
“Often referred to as one of America’s “castles,” the 110-room, 88,000-square-foot (8,200 m2) mansion is currently ranked sixth on the list of Largest Historic Homes in the United States., but is the third largest historic house museum.” – Wikipedia
What a magical time it was for me to spend time with a dear, dear friend and her two amazing, smart, and adorable girls!
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for how things work when you just get out-of-the-way of life. One amazing “chance” meeting so many years ago has led to so much joy, amazing opportunities, and meeting other wonderful people who have also become lifelong friends.