Monday, April 9, 2018

It's a Very Small World

Dear Friends,

Here's a short story about something that happened to me recently. It's something that I have told a number of people about because I still can't completely believe it happened.

We've all heard the term, "It's a small world." The term is commonly used when you're surprised when you meet someone you know at an unexpected place. It also applies when you find out that you share a friend or an acquaintance. That personal connection is a surprise. After all, it's not everyday that we encounter the same people or situation in an unexpected place, or that you have discovered that someone knows a person who you also know.

For example, many years ago, I was working in Washington state when I decided to take a ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. I had been working at the Navy Base in Bremerton and wanted to check out an event in Seattle before heading back home to the San Francisco Bay Area. After leaving my car, I was looking for a trash can to throw away an empty paper coffee cup when I bumped into a friend who owned a restaurant in San Jose, California. Talk about a small world, come to find out, he was on the ferry headed to Seattle to attend the same event that I was.

So where am I going with this? Well, about two months ago, I received a phone call from someone who asked, "Is this Tom Correa who was stationed on the USS Hancock in '74 and '75?" 

Come to find out, it was an old friend who I served with in the Marine Corps over 40 years ago. The last time that I saw him was in 1981. We talked for a while and it was great to hear from him. We caught up a little, but mostly I was curious about how he found me and got my number? 

I was flattered when he said that he and another mutual friend who I also served with were looking for me for a while. I was a little surprised when he said that he found me, my phone number, my address, and had even seen a satellite view of my home and property on Google maps. 

We talked about getting together, and about coming up for a visit.  Really, it was great to hear his voice and remember how close we were back in the day. 

We planned on getting together and making that happen in a few weeks since I had responsibilities that I couldn't get out of pertaining to a Chili Cook Off at our American Legion Post up here in beautiful Glencoe. Our post was doing the Cook Off on Saturday because we were boycotting the NFL and subsequently the Super Bowl. 

On the day of our post's Chili Cook Off, beings that I'm our post's 2nd Vice Commander, I'm responsible for events and such, so I had to work behind the bar for a while to get things started until the regular bartender showed up. I was behind the bar telling a story about something or other when in the door walks my two old Marine buddies who I have not seen '81. Yes, almost 40 years ago.

Both friends brought their wives with them. It was great to see them. I had known my one friend's wife as I was actually at their wedding in Half Moon Bay back in 1978, if I recall correctly. I had never met my other friend's wife. 

Soon we started talking about some of the things we did in the old days and how it was amazing that we were still alive. These two men were my best friends when I was 18 years old. We were Marines. We were stationed together and went overseas together. It was as if the years disappeared when we talked and laughed about how it was.

One of the reasons that I started this blog back in 2010 was that I found my memory not as sharp as it was. Talking with my friends, I found that I have sadly forgotten a lot of things that I wish I hadn't. 

So now, as I said before, I've known one of my friend's wives but not the other. Frankly, I didn't know my other friend's wife at all. All I was told on the phone is that he married a great gal who was originally from Hawaii. 

Many years ago I had a very good friend from Texas. Whenever he met another Texan, all of a sudden his Texas drawl got a little deeper. Well, that's the same thing as what happens when I meet people who are also from Hawaii. All of a sudden, I find that I don't have to pay as much attention to speaking proper English and I slip into what is commonly known back home as "Pidgin English."

As with everyone who meets someone who is from the same place where you originated, you ask what town and how long have you been away and other questions to find out if maybe you have more in common. Well, after talking to my friend's wife, I found out that she was from the same island that I was from, and that her grandparents lived near where my grandparents lived.

Hawaii has a lot of people but some of the families have been there forever, or came over on the same boat so to speak. Well, I asked her a little more about her family. She told me what he maiden name was and I found that interesting because it was the same as my paternal grandmother's maiden name. Yes, my dad's mom's maiden name which is not a common Portuguese name in Hawaii.

We talked a little more, but then I got sidetracked with post duties. In between doing this and that for the post, I sat with my old friends and we visited as much as we could. Since they had a long way to drive, before leaving we talked about getting together again soon. Hopefully very soon.

That following week, I called my friends to make sure they knew just how much I appreciated seeing them again. When talking with my friend whose wife is from Hawaii, I hear her in the background say, "Hi Cousin!" 

So I said to him something to the effect of  "Cousins because we're from the same island?"

My friend then tells me that if my grandmother's first name was such and such, and if she had something wrong with her arm, then you two are Second cousins. Fact is, he could probably hear the shock in my voice. I told him that he was correct about my grandmother's first name and that she did in fact have a bad arm from a stroke that she suffered in the 1940's. 

My old friends came back up to Glencoe in early March for a bar-b-q, but sadly my newly found Second Cousin couldn't make it back up because of another commitment. She did sent a note. In the note, she asked if my dad's name was "Clifford" and that he had something wrong with his jaw. If so, it is guaranteed that we are Second Cousins.

Well, my day's name was Herman Clifford Correa. Everyone called him "Clifford". As for his jaw? Beings that there were no tetanus shoots back in 1929, because of tetanus my dad had suffered from lockjaw all of his life. 

So now, let's talk about it being a very small world. It is a fact that my old friend who I haven't seen in almost 40 years has been married for almost 30 years to my Second Cousin. Yes, a Second Cousin who I didn't know I had.  

What's the odds of something like that happening? A friend of mine who I was very close to back in 1974 and 1975 when we served together in the Marine Corps, a man who I haven't seen since 1981, met and married a wonderful gal, and then in 2018 after they have been married for almost 30 years finds out that she's my Second Cousin. I would think the odds are astronomical that anything like that could happen.

But, it has. And now, now I get to know my new cousin and a part of my dad's side of my family that I really didn't know before. While I'm still shocked that this has happened, I feel absolutely blessed. Yes, especially knowing that my old Marine buddy is now really part of my family! Incredible as it is!  

By the way, in the note that she sent me was a picture of her grandfather. Come to find out, her grandfather and my grandmother were brother and sister. Imagine that for a small world.

Tom Correa

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!


Thank you for your comment.