Sunday, September 30, 2007

The people you meet in airports

It never ceases to amaze me the people you meet in airports...folks from all walks of life and from all over the globe...with truly amazing stories.

I had the pleasure to sit on a plane next to a Latvian born woman, now an American citizen for the last 15 years or so, who was a Holocaust survivor. Most of her family had perished in concentration camps during the Nazi regime but a few of her family had survived. As if her story was not amazing enough, this 80+ year old woman was travelling from NYC to Dusseldorf via Amsterdam (where we met up) to visit her long-lost cousin whom she had never met, whom she thought had also perished in a death camp, and for whom she had been searching for over 20 years. As she unravelled this tale of loss and then amazing discovery, she also mentioned that her cousin (and his family) was not even aware they had any relatives from this side of the family. A true blessing for both.

Her fascinating story of this incredible journey to locate her last living relatives in Europe kept me spellbound for the entire flight. As we said our goodbyes upon exit at German customs in Dusseldorf and parted ways, I must confess to stepping aside and simply watching this woman greet her long-lost cousin. I was in no hurry to rush home; instead, this heart-warming reunion captivated me. Although I was rather embarrassed at watching this reunion unfold (and feeling a bit voyeuristic), the sheer joy (amid tears) that was on their faces as these two people hugged one another, kissed each other checks, and sobbed out loud was a site to behold. I stood there for what must have been 10 minutes simply witnessing this miracle.

And as they began to leave the airport terminal, arm in arm, I was envious of the time they would be spending together over the next few weeks of their visit. I found myself wishing I could hear the stories that they would be sharing with one another...of family members loved and lost, of cherished family stories and memories that they would share, and of new memories they would create.

I was lucky to have witnessed this event...and to have met this amazing lady.

back from the black hole

Yes, Tuscany was great, but was followed on the heels of vacation by 2 grueling weeks of work in The Netherlands. Have not had a moment's peace to even contemplate posting updates let alone getting around to it. Sorry folks...bear with me a bit longer.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Under the Tuscan sun

Yes, 2 weeks in glorious Toscana have come and gone. Seems I was just preparing for the vacation, then I blinked, and it was over. Perfect weather (the tan looks good BTW), all the Italian food we could eat, and village after village of medieval and renaissance fortresses, churches, piazzas, and towers.