Pen Pal

One of my best “dinner party stories” is a few years old, but it goes like this:

In the spring I turned 15, my family took a long road trip as we often did back then.  All six of us piled into the minivan and we set out on a journey that would take us down through Zion National Park in Utah, The Grand Canyon in Arizona, and up through Los Angeles, San Francisco and Eureka, California, into Oregon and Washington state and home again.  It was a trip of many “firsts” and some beautiful memories, but one in particular has made history.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

It was while we were admiring the view at the Grand Canyon that I noticed a business card caught in the weeds.  It was that of an Australian cardiologist, Mr. Michael Davis.  I kept the card and when I got home, I sat down and wrote a long letter to Mr. Davis, telling him all about me and my life and how I had come to find his card.  I think I even sent a picture of myself – perhaps this man was young and handsome, looking for an American girlfriend? (I was quite boy-crazy in my teen years. :))

A few months later and my mother was bringing in the mail when I spied a handwritten letter with an Australian postmark!  I turned beet red, grabbed the letter and clutched it to my chest as I ran to my bedroom and slammed the door.  Mr. Davis had written me back.

Turns out Mike (as I now know him) was indeed shocked to receive my letter and actually apologetic about “littering up” the Grand Canyon!  He wrote a long letter in reply to mine and told me about himself, his kids and his wife and their home in Perth.  He was not as young as I’d hoped, ha ha, but still handsome and kind and very interesting!  Thus began a friendship to span 15+ years and now three continents!

A few summers after the first letters were sent, Mike and his wife Wendy came to visit my family in Bozeman while they were on a trip to the States.  I was really nervous, I have to admit!  How often do you meet pen pals, especially ones from thousands of miles away?  What if it was really strange and uncomfortable? But I had no reason to worry really as Mike and Wendy were so lovely and friendly, we all got along very well and had a wonderful visit.

Time moved on and so did we.  You know my story – I went to college in Indiana, ended up moving to Ireland and getting married and having Evelyn in 2009.  Meanwhile, Mike and Wendy kept in touch, too, sending Christmas letters and even a gorgeous baby gift when Evey was born.  They also had a baby, a boy named Oscar, and we’ve all been sharing photos on Facebook.

Me, Wendy, Oscar and Mike at Trinity College

Fast forward to May 2012, when I received an email from Mike again saying he’d be in the area for a visit!  So yesterday Frank and Evelyn and I caught the train down to Dublin and spent a lovely sunny day with Mike, Wendy and little Oscar.  We met at St. Stephen’s Green and spent a good while in the playground area with the kids before heading to lunch at Bewley’s.  From there we walked around Temple Bar, Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin Castle and Trinity College, just enjoying the good weather and good company.  It was so great to catch up again and have all the new family members meet.  The last time we saw each other, I was still a child myself, and now there are new babies to take centre stage.

Evey and Oscar

Who would have thought?

I don’t consider myself a very adventurous person, but I have to say, I’m glad I’ve grabbed hold of a few incredible opportunities throughout my life and I hope to continue that tradition!  So without sounding smug or crazy, I’d like to encourage you all to occasionally do something unexpected and “silly.”  You never know what might come of it! 🙂

Copyright Maryann Kelly 2012 All Rights Reserved
(photo credit courtesy of Grand Canyon


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