The year was 1971 and two young mothers, with seven (7) children between them, were stationed with their husbands in Yokohama, Japan. Far away from their families in the United States and joined by a common belief in a loving God, these women joined in friendship. In 1973, circumstances drove them apart. They corresponded for years, but never saw each other again until a family reunion placed them in the same place at the same time. It was 35 years before they saw each other again...had their friendship survived? Would they still feel the same love and kindred spirits that forged a friendship three decades before? Or would time have changed the bond they used to feel?
Sounds like the synopsis for a epic friendship novel or a Lifetime movie of the week, doesn't it? Didn't you hear the theme music from GONE WITH THE WIND (or some other epic classic) playing in the background as you read it? And yet, this is the true life story of a reunion that I was able to witness between my mother and her military wife friend, Faye, on last evening. It was an incredible experience to watch, and I am so glad I was there to witness it.
I have to admit, I was reluctant to go. My mother kept trying to make me know who these people were: "Don't you remember? We used to ride to church together every Sabbath? Don't you remember her children? Don't you remember?" Ok, I was all of 7 years old when we left Japan...of course, I don't remember! In fact, even after she told me who we were going to meet, I still went around telling everyone that I was going with my mother to meet my kindergarten teacher...I didn't have a clue. Little did I know, "Aunt" Faye was doing the same thing to her daughter, Patricia, who had come along for the reunion..."Don't you remember? You all were best friends and inseparable." Uh, yeah...she didn't remember either.
And the funny thing: Faye and Rachel - the mothers behind this reunion - didn't really remember either. When we got to the hotel, we called to see what room we should go to and Aunt Faye said, "Oh, I'm in the lobby waiting for you...", so we go to the lobby of the hotel. There were a million convention goers milling around..Mom recognizes no one...we call on the cell phone...no answer...we walk around the lobby...still no one that catches Mom's eye...no one looks familiar...we go outside and see a couple of ladies sitting on a bench, but they don't look familiar and they don't call out to us, so we keep moving...back into the lobby...another call on the cell phone, still no answer...a little bit of frustration is setting in...where is she? she knew we were coming, I just spoke with her! why would she keep us waiting like this?...another call, this time it's answered and a lady stands up...yep, that lady sitting outside that we passed by (twice!) was Aunt Faye. She didn't recognize us...we didn't recognize her. Seated inside the lobby was her husband, George, who saw us looking around, but he didn't recognize us and we didn't recognize him. We were all at the right place, right time, but without the right tools to identify each other.
Aren't you glad that God always "recognizes" us...no matter how long we have been away from Him? In Luke 12:7, He tells us that "...even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Ok, if somebody knows how many hairs are on your head, He definitely KNOWS you!...who you are, what your foibles are, what trips you up, what encourages you...HE KNOWS YOU! And that is a wonderful thing.
I am glad that I was able to witness my mother reunited with her friends. As we sat down to dinner and they talked and reminisced and made plans to get together again before the end of the year, it made me aware (again) of how valuable friendships and shared experiences are to the fabric of life. We should be enriched by those with whom we fellowship...and we should enrich the lives of those we come in contact with each day. We should cherish each other...whether we've known each other for 35 minutes...or 35 years.