Monday, December 13, 2010

Memories in the Mailbox

Another thing I like about the holiday season are the memories that show up in my mailbox. One of the first cards I received this year was from a woman with whom I collaborated when we both worked for Rotary International (RI). About twelve years ago, when east/west tensions had eased dramatically, the organization’s leadership decided it was time to make serious overtures to the Russian government. It was going to be tough to explain a volunteer service organization. Especially since it was proving difficult for Rotary clubs outside the country to ship needed goods to Russian communities where clubs were just getting started. The shipments were regarded with suspicion and held up (in every sense of the word) by custom officials.

So it fell to me and to my counterpart in RI’s Zurich office to coordinate the delegation’s visit and design English/Russian literature that would confirm Rotary’s benign and beneficial intentions. That’s when Myla became more than a name. We worked for a while by email and occasional telephone conversations before she was brought to our Evanston, Illinois headquarters for more direct communication.

She stayed in a modest hotel apartment with her little girl. We worked together daily and often I’d have the two of them (and perhaps others) over for dinner. I remember driving them around a Chicago neighborhood known for its extravagant Christmas lighting displays. She was stunned by our excesses.

We grew to respect each other and to thoroughly enjoy encounters – both work-related and just for fun. We worked hard together, under considerable pressure. We did a good job. Too soon, she and her daughter went back to Zurich. The RI ‘mission’ went forward and was as successful as it could have been. And I have never seen her again.

Still, once a year, she sends a card updating me on her life and that of her daughter (now 14!). And I send her my news. Neither of us works for Rotary International any more. That’s irrelevant. We are still connected and probably will stay connected for many years to come.

To me, connections -- refreshed, restored, or launched -- are the whole point of all the holiday hullabaloo. Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. I too enjoy those Christmas cards and long letters. Every year I hear someone grumble about letters full of bragging about children. Those letters are my favorite. I enjoy sharing in the accomplishments of the children of my dear friends and relatives through parents' lettes. Rushed in December I will sit down in January and read through them once again imagining the thrill of each trip and applaud each accomplishment. Enjoy your letters and cards!