Attributed to Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) speaking to “The New York Journal,” June 2, 1897.
I never thought I’d be in the same proverbial boat as American author and icon Mark Twain. I mean given his talent and production history, what middle-aged 21st century US American blogger would not want to be compared to him?
Still, that is kind of what happened to me. Recently, there was an exaggeration in a report of my own death.
“She said, ‘No, that can’t be right,’” the man named Fred was telling me over the phone.
“She was my best friend. She married a man named Jackson and she lives in Oregon,” the woman said to Fred.
Fred Corvi is a volunteer from an ad hoc committee undertaking the enormous task of attempting to locate every Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who served in the Central American country of Honduras.
More than 5000 US citizens served in Honduras in Peace Corps beginning in 1962 and continuing until 2012 when the US government decided to pull the program. That decision came after a female volunteer suffered a non lethal gun shot wound while riding a bus in the area of San Pedro Sula, a major city in the north of the country.
Another RPCV bites the dust.
But Sharon knew better. We hadn’t been in touch for several years. Still, Sharon Hudson and I shared that kind of bond Peace Corps Volunteers develop serving their country in a foreign land. Often times, we hear military veterans talk about the bond shared between soldiers.
True, Peace Corps Volunteers don’t knowingly and purposely go into war zones or enter into battle.
Rather, they battle Giardia, and monitor their anti malaria prophylactics together. They help one another learn the local language, learn how to safely travel about, and share insights on how to do their development work successfully.
That’s why Sharon and I were close. She had already been in the country a little less than a year when we met. She had learned Spanish before Peace Corps service.
I, on the other hand, was learning on the fly. I’d just gotten to my “site,” as it is called. I had just passed the watershed landmark of learning to say, “How much are the beans?” and “Where’s the post office?”
As soon as you could do that, you were an official Volunteer, ready for service. This was 1988, well before the age of the internet. The post office was a Volunteer’s link to home and the English-speaking world.
Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that my beloved friend and I only shared a little more than a year together. We were together constantly. There were few phones, and, as pointed out earlier, no email. To make plans to do something meant getting on the bus, traveling between our towns, finding one another, and then saying whatever it was we needed to say to one another. From there, plans were made for the next meeting.
Now, it’s been almost 20 years since our last meeting, 19 years this spring to be exact.
That’s when, graciously, Sharon traveled from California to Oregon for my wedding.
In our wedding album is a beautiful picture of Sharon dancing, beaming, and glowing. There she is, frozen in time, forever young, forever beautiful, forever my friend.
What Sharon did for me this fall is extraordinary. She didn’t have to insist that the Honduran RPCVs keep looking for me. She could have chosen to shrug it off. She could have said, “Oh, well. That Rebecca was a lot of fun. Too bad she’s gone. Tsk tsk.”
But that is not who this wonderful, amazing, smart, funny and beautiful woman is. Sharon is a woman who gets exactly who it is she is meant to be in the world. She gets the concept that how each of us interacts with the world, affects the outcome for us all. Perhaps, that’s why we have always been such fast friends.
Because she acted upon her conviction that the dead woman was a different Rebecca, she and I were reunited.
One of the things I work to write about in this blog is the importance of our personal attitudes and actions. Spiritually, I’m learning that we can choose to see opportunity and beauty and glory in any and every situation, even the most difficult ones. In turn, our view of the world affects our actions therein.
The Buddhists tell us that in the final analysis, it is our actions that speak for us.
Through her work, her dedication to family, and her undertakings on a civic level, Sharon continues to improve our world.
We’ve been in touch by email, a few times since my resurrection from the recently deceased. We caught one another up on work, family, etc.
It was wonderful to be in touch with her. I’m looking forward to speaking with her again. We’ve begun discussing plans for an in-person visit. Our work travels take us near her home, pretty regularly.
It will be nice to meet her handsome US/Aussie husband Brad in person, her adorable daughter Adelaide, and give Sharon a great big hug.
But most of all, I’m looking forward to hearing her giggle, giggling back, and feeling forever young in her presence. Who among us can feel aches, pains and the ravages of time when engulfed in a heartfelt giggle?
And isn’t it that feeling of youth, that makes us feel alive and full of potential and possibility?
That’s the attitude Sharon brings to the world. Thanks, Sharon, for being you. And, thanks for resurrecting me from the dead.
*This post is humbly dedicated to an array of individuals and ideals. First to the legacy of peace left behind by the late president John F. Kennedy, who 50 years ago had the foresight and conviction to establish a corps to work for peace around the world. His actions enabled scores of individuals like me the opportunity to represent the people of the United States as lovers of peace and diplomats for a peaceful world.
Secondly, to all the men and women with whom I was privileged to serve in Honduras Peace Corps during the years of 1988 to 1991, especially los Olanchanos!
Finally and perhaps most importantly, to the people of Catacamas, Olancho, Honduras, especially my former neighbors in Barrio de Jesus for their love, kindness, support and friendship which I carry with me in my heart always. Special recognition to my dear, dear friend Mercedis de Matamoras, her late husband Benjamin and their family. Their willingness to take me into their lives and treat me like family lives with me to this day.
And to my former colleague Dra. Amanda Madrid with whom wonderful development work was accomplished and many hours of laughter and mischief were achieved!