Dedicated with love to Vanessa

IMG_9303While Jenny left Auckland to go back home, Frank and I had a special reason to stay. I was going to meet the pen pal I had been writing to since fifth grade!

Vanessa and I had exchanged countless letters as we journeyed through life – school years, boyfriends, graduation, jobs, marriage, children. As we got older, the letters were less frequent — we’d often disconnect for a decade at a time — but then she’d find me and we’d pick up right where we had left off. When Frank and I downsized a few years back, I came across all her old letters. Wouldn’t it be fun to send them to her? I thought it would be like having a “diary of her life” and was certain Vanessa (and her daughter) would love them. I tried tracking her down online but had no luck. I stuffed the letters back in a box.

Just before New Year’s 2014, Vanessa got ahold of me through my parents, who still had their same landline phone number. We talked for an hour and exchanged contact info. I sent her the old letters but there would be no more long, handwritten letters between us. Times had changed. We stayed connected through Facebook!

Then Frank and I decided to go to Australia and New Zealand. Would Vanessa and I finally get to meet in person? Unfortunately for us, she was living in Brisbane, which wasn’t on our list of destinations. I was thrilled when Vanessa decided to go “home” and surprise her dad after the holidays — while we were still in the country!

On January 25th, Frank and I arrived at an Indian restaurant belonging to a friend of Vanessa’s father. There she was smiling and looking beautiful in a bright yellow dress! We hugged tightly, enjoyed a wonderful meal and caught up on each other’s lives.

The next day, Vanessa toured us around Papakura. It had been a long time since she had been there and she enjoyed showing us her old haunts. I saw the home where all my early letters went, her schools and the home where her dad lives now. We met her dad, a lively cheerful man, who treated us to lunch and a live karaoke show at the RSA (Retired Servicemen Association).

After a lovely dinner at an oceanside restaurant, it was time to say goodbye. I was sad to leave but so thankful I got to finally meet the dear friend with whom I had shared so much. We laughed that it seemed like we had known each other forever, which, in reality, I guess we have!

 

2 thoughts on “Dedicated with love to Vanessa

  1. That had to be one of the highlights of your trip, cool story and memories! What’s your plan for South Africa? Hope you can find me a African rosary!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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