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  • Gail Wilson Kenna

The Ever Present Three C’s

Those who have read my latest book, Tennis Talk of a Nobody, will know it weaves life’s three C’s: chance, circumstance, and connection.

This photo was taken on March 4th at Dallas-Fort Worth. I arrived there from Southern California’s small and manageable Santa Ana airport.  Not so at Dallas with its speed train and multiple terminals. And the gate for my flight to Richmond kept changing: A to C, back to A, again to C. At one point I stopped to consult a big board above my head and heard a woman’s voice behind me. “May I help you?” A tiny woman in a volunteer ambassador’s uniform said she could check my flight if I gave her my boarding pass. Which I did. I thanked her and left.

What I needed to do was let husband Mike know I’d reached Dallas. Before the first flight I’d shut down my “simple” Consumer Cellular phone. But when I turned it back on, flipped it open and hit “contacts,” I got a message about airplane mode.  I knew my husband, the pilot, would say, “Did you troubleshoot the problem?”  Yes, I fiddled around until I gave up, unable to make a call. That’s when I remembered the kind ambassador and scuttled back to her. 

 “This is supposed to be an easy phone for seniors,” she said. So they say.  She fooled around with it, then said, “I’ll ask someone young!” She flagged down a young woman in the busy corridor.” Ah, youth. She met the challenge and proudly announced, “I’ve turned off airplane mode.” We both thanked her. That’s when I looked at the ambassador’s name tag.

 “Lee Lee, if you don’t mind me asking, what is your country of origin?” With delight, I heard, “Malaysia.” I told her that I’d lived in Kuala Lumpur on Jalan U Thant from 1987 to 1990.  I asked when she had left, and then learned she had accepted a contract as a mid-wife to the U.K., later accepted a position as a nurse in the USA. That’s when she met her husband, an airman from Hawaii, who was stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio.

            Really? I’d lived there in 1968 after marrying a USAF student- pilot. Had he fought in the Vietnam war? she asked.  Yes, and so had her husband. At that point she sent a text to Mike, then showed me a photo of her two daughters. One named Michelle!  I dug out an actual photograph of my Michelle, and said that I, too, had a second daughter.  Why had I been in California, Lee Lee asked?  To talk to an old friend’s book club about my latest book.  Really? I learned she is in a writing group and hopes to see her memoir published this year. At this point in our conversation, she flagged down another woman and asked if she would take a photo of us.  She already had Mike’s number and sent the photo to him.


            I did not tell Lee Lee about the multiple connections with a woman in the book club I’d attended days earlier. What were the chances I would meet someone who had done business for years in Venezuela and Colombia, mined gold in Peru (three countries where I’d spent a decade)? More than this, she has a house in the Napa Valley (my haunt for another decade), and her nephew, a retired Major General, is someone my daughter knows from the U.S. army.  Best of all, this woman and I are USC graduates. There is even more related to the South for both of us, where she worked for 15 years and where I’ve lived since late 2004.  

            What’s my point? That I am renewed by each encounter with Life’s Three C’s. I returned home from this six-day trip in time for the first meeting of the 2024 RCC-RILL book club. We had a fine discussion of Marilynn Robinson’s Housekeeping.  That’s for next week.

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