Thursday, May 18, 2006


Ross’ best friend at nursery school in London was the most darling little boy by the name of Jamie. They adored each other. A couple of months before we were leaving the UK to come to New Jersey (NJ), I finally met Jamie’s Mom, Karen. She was on an extended summer vacation between jobs. She is a very successful solicitor, as lawyers are called in England. I had never met her previously as because of her work schedule, she would drop Jamie off at school earlier than Ross got there, and I would get Ross before Jamie went home.

Karen and I chatted with each other whenever we were at the school at the same time. I was very grateful to her when she acted as a chaperone on one of the school field trips and she took Ross in her car with her and Jamie. There wasn’t much time for us to devote to building a friendship because we were almost on our way out of the country when we met. I did however invite them to our farewell party and it was really strange how out of a group of some 40 people, Karen, her husband Stuart, and of course Jamie were the only English people there. The group was all ex South Africans so I think they might even have felt a bit uncomfortable. When they left the party to go home, Karen and I promised that we would keep the boys in contact with each other, and in so doing, I said to her that if they ever found themselves in NJ, they should please contact us and they would always be welcome to visit with us.

We exchanged emails which were kind of short and sweet because we didn’t really know each other and our mutual ground was very much limited to Ross and Jamie. I think it was about a year after we got here when I got an email from her telling me that they were coming to the States to visit friends in Massachusetts (MA) and thought they would come say hi to us. I wrote back and we arranged that they would stay with us and asked her to let me know their exact dates.

I had expected her to tell me that they were coming for 2 or 3 days, so when I read that they were coming for nearly a week, then going to MA and coming back here for a few days, I was quite shocked. Stuart was going to leave ahead of her and Jamie as he had to get back to work, but Karen thought it would be nice to give the boys a few days extra together.

I awaited their arrival with a certain amount of trepidation. I was confident that the boys would have no problem carrying on where they had left off. I told Daniel that I hoped us four adults wouldn’t end up feeling like we were on a disastrous blind date. After all, we really didn’t know this couple.

The time we shared was absolutely fantastic. As each day unfolded, I discovered a friend who was interesting, thoughtful, totally hilarious in that uniquely daft English way and also very strong. Daniel and Stuart got on well and the days passed with extreme ease. I missed her while they were in MA and was eager for their return. I was now pleased that Karen had decided to add those extra few days on at the end. When we said our goodbyes, they were tearful and I felt really miserable after they were gone. A relative stranger by the name of Karen had arrived. After many good laughs and a heated argument about whether Posh Spice could sing or not, I had parted company with a friend whom I now called Kaz and I had declared her a snooty solicitor at that!

I think it was about a year later again when I had been ill and we were talking on the phone. I passed a comment that I wished we could get together for a face to face chat and cup of tea and before I knew it Karen was back on the phone with flight details. I was, as I learnt to say in England, completely gob-smacked! We again exchanged emails confirming plans and decided to keep this visit as a surprise for Ross and Jamie. We discussed this at length and felt quite childlike ourselves about how amazing this was going to be for them. A couple of hours later Karen called me.

“I’ve just been to get Jamie from school and the first thing I said to him when he got into the car was that we were going to see Ross!” she told me. I roared with laughter because I tell you, we had sworn to secrecy as if we were planning the greatest conspiracy, ever. To this day I don’t know how I managed it, but I did keep it as a complete surprise for Ross.

Somewhere in between all of this we went back to London for a short visit and while we were there, they extended the most generous hospitality to us. Their home was open to us and anyone who wanted to come see us there. In the short bursts of time we got to spend together, an ongoing and most wonderful friendship continued to grow and our bond has gotten stronger and stronger over the years.

Their family increased to now include a daughter but unfortunately we have not been able to get together for close on two years now. We continue to exchange emails and phone calls now and then and whenever we do, we are reminded of how much we want to see each other again.

The last time the snooty solicitor called me, I was unfortunately on my way out the door so could not speak for very long. She did manage to say, “It’s ok as I am actually busy making dinner. I don’t know why, but I just put a chicken in the oven and it made me think of you.”

“Well,” I said, “I suppose it must be those succulent, firm breasts that made you think of me.” This was about a month ago and I still haven’t had the good manners to return the phone call.

In among my snail mail today, I received a parcel from Karen. It came as a total surprise and I had no clue as to what it might be.

The outside of the card said:

The personal message read:

Then I unwrapped this book and smiled a huge smile!
I am always surprised when something happens in my life that reflects that someone, in the busyness of their life, not only thought about me, but went out of their way to do something kind and loving and generous for me. When it comes as a total surprise, it doesn’t get much better than this.

As the greeting on the card suggested, my day went from ordinary to totally cool. Thanks, Kaz.