(photo credit: Skyline Richmond Virginia by Jim on flickr.com. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode.)
My husband and I come from pretty different backgrounds.
I was brought up in the Jewish tradition; he in the Christian. His family has been in the US since colonial times; my family came over in the early 20th century. His roots are in Western Europe; mine are in Eastern Europe. His ancestry is full of senators and war heroes. Mine is mostly peasant stock. The list goes on.
I bring this up because of a memory that surfaced tonight at a dinner with my husband’s family, which included my husband’s Aunt and Uncle, who are visiting from Virginia.
The memory is of a story I was told after we returned from our honeymoon (in 1991!) It was about a revelation that took place at our wedding.
All of my grandparents were alive when I got married so they were all a part of the wedding. My husband’s grandparents, however, had already passed away, but he did have a couple of great aunts (his mother’s father’s sisters) who traveled up to Baltimore from Virginia to be at our wedding.
During the reception, from what I was told, my husband’s great aunt suddenly realized that she recognized my family name — Walpert. There was a handsome boy with that last name, a boy who was a few years older than she was and who went to her elementary school in Richmond, Virginia. And she thought he might have been the Jewish boy.
Enter my grandfather (my father’s father). Once, many years before, he was a Jewish boy who went to elementary school in Richmond, Virginia.
Somebody put the pieces together and brought my husband’s great aunt and my grandfather together. She told him the name of the primary school she attended and the years she was there. He confirmed that he also went to that school and his time there overlapped with hers. Then they went on to discuss friends and neighborhoods and what happened to them since those early years.
I’m sure their families did not mix back in those days. I’m pretty certain that my grandfather’s family was struggling financially and that my husband’s grandfather’s family had some wealth. Undoubtedly, they didn’t live near each other. I’m sure they were part of different social circles. Yet my grandfather was on his great aunt’s radar. She remembered him as handsome (which he was) and older than she (which he was.)
And now they were celebrating the joining of their two families, sixty-some years after they walked the same halls as classmates.
I never would have imagined it possible that my grandfather and my husband’s grandfather could have known of each other when they were small boys. Their lives were too different. It never crossed my mind that they could have lived in the same city when they were children. My husband’s family lived in southwestern Virginia and Massachusetts. My family lived in Baltimore. Yet. The fact remains.
The randomness of the connection gives me chills. The fact that they were able to come full circle fills me up with joy.
I know it’s just a song and ridiculously cliche, but it really truly is a small world after all.
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