Here I am, having just stepped off the ferry after a two-day trip to the San Juans to deliver a few things to my daughter's camp. Exhausted, been on the road for hours, haven't showered, wearing my favorite Goodwill sweatshirt; definitely not looking my best.
Which is okay, because this picture and story are not about me but about Linda, the beautiful woman standing next to me. Linda is a pediatrician, mother of two children roughly the same ages as my girls, and for some reason (we never got to discuss how this happened) she began reading my blog some time ago.
Linda lives in the Philippines, and when she learned her sister was getting married in Vancouver BC, she decided to make a side trip to Bainbridge Island to see me. (Understand; this is not a small undertaking -- there's a border crossing and a bit of flying time involved, not to mention figuring out the ferry system!) She didn't have my email address, so she didn't know how to contact me; she just talked her husband into paying for a ticket from Vancouver to Seattle and talked her brother into coming along for the trip (because her husband didn't want her to travel so far alone).
So today, while I was still up on Orcas Island, Linda arrived in Seattle and she and her brother Alan took the ferry over to Bainbridge to look for me. They had planned to hire a taxi or rent a car, but there were no taxis left when they got off the ferry (Allen was using a wheelchair, so they were moving a little slowly) and there are no car rental services on the island. So they made their way up the hill to Winslow Way, our main street, and ended up at the Chamber of Commerce, asking if anyone knew me.
The chamber didn't, of course (there are some 22,000 people on the island) but Linda showed them my blog (apparently they liked yesterday's parrot) and they looked my number up in the phonebook and she called my house. My husband answered the phone, Linda explained who she was and why she was looking for me, and Chris (bless his heart) said I was away but gave her my cellphone number. She called just as my ferry was pulling away from Orcas Island, and somehow we managed to arrange for Chris to show Linda and Allen around the island, and I promised I'd do my best to get back before they had to leave to get back to Seattle.
I have to say -- I made record time coming back, hit a record number of green lights, and the one time I stopped to take a picture my memory card was full so there were no more interruptions after that. I was the second to last car on the 8:10 ferry to Bainbridge, and Chris brought them to Mora, our local ice cream store, to meet me. (So sweet: they stepped out of the car, and I walked over to meet them, and Allen gave me this HUGE grin and said, "It's like meeting a movie star!" Fortunately I understand that was a joke...)
We had time for talk, and for ice cream (turns out Chris and Allen had a lot in common, too), and for photographs, and then rushed them to the 9:45 ferry, put together the wheelchair, got the ferry guy to hold the boat long enough for the wheelchair to make it down the long ramp, and with a hug and a kiss they were gone.
The whole experience was amazing -- that Linda cared enough to make the trip, that my husband happened to have decided to work from home today, that I made it back in time to see her, that the ferry man was kind enough to hold the boat that extra two minutes... just incredible. But the best part of all was meeting Linda: she's a wonderful human being, with a wonderful story to tell: when her son, who has down's syndrome, was 4, she started a school for children with disabilities, and it has become a gathering and sharing place for the parents of the children as well. Most of her medical services are provided free of charge for children who can't afford to pay for them. Her son is now 21, and her daughter has just graduated from medical school. She is, I think, a living example of the power of prayer, and she just radiates love; I am honored to know her.