Some meetings are actual ‘reunitings’

Published 11:05 pm Friday, March 11, 2016

An introduction. A handshake. A friendly greeting. You never know where these encounters can lead.

Once when I was introduced to a woman in a hospital, she told me that she read this column. She was interested because she once lived in the community I had said was my birthplace. My family moved when I was very young, so I knew little about it. I recognized names she called that my parents often mentioned. Later, when I told my mother, she said she and the stranger I met were probably distantly related.

Then there was the time I called Charles, a first cousin in Pensacola, when we found out my husband was appointed minister of the Lillian United Methodist Church. I was excited because we were going to be “practically neighbors.” He said we had a second cousin in Lillian. His name was Jack and our grandfathers were first cousins. We had never met. In fact, we had never heard of each other. I could not wait to call him the day we moved in. We spent a lot of time chatting about family. He was retired military and met his wife Perry while stationed in England. As a reporter always on the lookout for a good story, I interviewed them about their courtship and Perry’s journey to the states with other English brides.

In one large church, long-lost cousins sat down beside each other. If they had not had the opportunity to greet each other across the pew, they might never have discovered their connection. Another time, a young woman whose family separated because of divorce met her grandmother who was sitting on a pew behind her.

Once at our church, a connection was made when a man inquired about someone’s name to find that he had worked with that person’s father in another state.

Just like my hospital encounter, people who come from the same area sometimes compare notes and find mutual friends or even relatives. Another time when I worked at a hospital, a co-worker introduced me to her mother. When I inquired where she was from, we discovered that her family and one of my cousins and his family were friends. They had known each other for years.

When my husband served an Opp church, one of the members shared a story of arriving in Opp by a wagon driven by his mother from a distant state. I knew I had happened upon a story worth relating through the newspaper. Soon after it was in print, a man in his 90s contacted the subject of the story to tell him it was his family’s barn where he, his mother, and their family spent the night. The two men got together after that. They enjoyed meeting each other and reminiscing.

So, as I heard a minister say about these kinds of encounters, I agree they can be a “reuniting.” And, I might add, as was the case in discovering Jack and Perry, a real joy.

Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.