Six Degrees of Separation
We never know when we will cross paths with another person who is connected to us in some surprising way. Recently I sat around a table with an old friend. He invited someone new in his life to join us. I’d never met her. But through our discussion we discovered a connection sixty years in the making.
When I was eleven, my family spent the summer at a campground on a lake in Maine. There we met a family with whom we became lifelong friends. The parents, who became Mr. George and Mrs. George to us, were a musical pair with two equally musical children. My family may not have been blessed with the same talent, but we eagerly looked forward to adding our voices to the fun. Mr. George would load his piano on the back of a pickup truck and haul it down to the beach on Saturday nights and lead us campers in a sing-along. Five decades later, I can clearly remember the melodies and words to those songs!
Over the years I stayed in touch with Mr. and Mrs. George. Then, in late 2016, Mrs. George became ill, passing away in early 2017. She was in her early 90s. Mr. George was lost. We talked by phone during the year and I kept promising I would pay him a visit. Finally, just last month toward the end of December (I’m embarrassed it took me so long), I called Mr. George and asked him to meet me for lunch. His voice sounded different. It was upbeat. The grief had lessened a bit. He shared with me that he had a friend named Evelyn. I told him I would be delighted to meet her and encouraged him to invite Evelyn to join us.
At lunch, which lasted almost two hours, the three of us shared pleasantries and then talk turned to what it’s like to lose a spouse. Evelyn had lost hers just six months prior, Mr. George had lost Mrs. George a little over a year before, and I had lost my own husband in 2002.
Evelyn had met her late husband, who was in the Air Force, in Anchorage, Alaska in the mid-1950s. Coincidentally, my father was also in the Air Force and stationed at the same base during that period. In fact, I was born on that base! Mr. George and Evelyn’s late husband had grown up together in Maine, where they’d been friends since their late teen years. Mr. George and I met when I was only 11 here in Maine. Who would have guessed that the three of us would come together in the way we did to have lunch? These synchronicities not only livened up our luncheon conversation but helped the three of us connect at a deeper level.
In a world of 7 billion people, it can be hard to believe that we are all connected by just six degrees or less. There’s debate as to whether the Theory of Six Degrees is science or urban myth, but in listening to the stories of others and sharing our own, we discover the many threads that bind us to one another…and in this age of disconnect, there’s real and valuable currency in connection.