“How beautiful a day when kindness touches it.” George Elliston
This, my inaugural blog, is a special “shout out” to the thirteen men and women I cruised with last week on their “Reonion Friendship Anniversary Cruise”. I was a guest and honored to be so, with this unique group.
In the year of 1973 the universe brought these young officers, all engineers, and their wives to an army base in Germany. They banded together as friends supporting each other in this foreign land, far from family and country, reminiscing about that time. Times when the men left their families, sent off to serve for weeks at a time doing what needed to be done, recalling with laughter, and sometimes solemn faces, those remembrances. It was as if their words really were some unknown language that only they could understand because only they had lived it. This brand of brotherhood made me be very still wondering what kind of memories our military heroes of today will be recounting in the years to come. I hope that their memories will be as rich as the memories that this group of brave army men have today – some forty years later.
The wives of these men followed, without hesitation, the first of many grand adventures with their husbands. The women were teachers, nurses, mothers and business women. Yet the bond of these wives is no less rich than that of their husbands, as they nurtured in the “it’s what we do” way of women. When one wife became seriously ill and had to be rushed to the hospital and put into ICU, the other wives stepped in to take care of her child, only a few months old, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. When one of the men got married, the wives bonded together to create a most beautiful wedding for the American and the German. Oh, and not to be forgotten is the infamous shared laundry room; a most sensitive topic involving the presence of the military police. Their grace is that of Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh in the days to come.”
The difference forty years made, as they faced life’s thorns with hope renewed, was evident. In one sense so much has changed, yet everything is somehow the same. Snail mail replaced by email; Christmas letters and photos replaced by Facebook; long distance phone calls replaced by text messages – each family distinct and separate. Yet this singular time in their lives remains fresh. Dramatic changes for sure, but their enchanted friendship remains as solid as in 1973.
So, on this significant “reonion” (yes that’s how they spell it, even though my spell check wants to auto correct) time stood still. Sure they shared stories and pictures of grandchildren, each bragging more than the other, but their friendship was young again, albeit on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.
The essence of this special group of people: Judi and Don, Jan and Lee, Patti and Gary, Bobbie and Steve, Judy and Randy, Angie and Jim, and Karen – shone in their kindness to me, a stranger, a friend of one of the friends. Thank you all for seven beautiful days.