Connections Are Everywhere

Coincidence or not? You decide. I walked onto the cruise ship and faced an entire wall lit up with the message, “How Will You Tell your Story?” This followed a very interesting conversation during a 25-minute van ride from my hotel to the cruise ship port in Florida.

I sat next to a woman named Marylin. We shared information about ourselves and discovered some interesting connections such as a fondness for reading. Also, she had worked in an independent/assisted living facility. I proudly gave her information about our Pitman Best Day group and the wonderful stories the members share about their lives. Our mutual fascination prompted exchanges of our own past stories.

While we spoke about ancestry and discovered a shared Irish heritage, Marylin revealed rich Cherokee Indian genetics. Marylin relayed that women in her past were very strong and went through many tough and tragic times. Marylin’s aunt, who left her a box filled with generations of family memorabilia and information, said it was up to her to take this box with the stories that she heard throughout her lifetime and record them for future generations.

The irony of this mandate to the mission of Best Day struck me. What were the chances we would sit next to each other and connect in this way? I was blown away when she shared her solution to honor her aunt’s wishes —she wrote and published a book, Common Thread, Uncommon Women.

I felt spellbound as she told me, despite her 70+ years and no previous professional writing experience she researched, planned and fulfilled the promise. After hard, but satisfying work over a couple of years, she published the book, which is now under consideration for a television mini-series. If adapted, she will consult with the producers. As we pulled into the cruise port, I downloaded a copy as the van let off some passengers.

Although we wished for more time to talk, I had to leave the van, while she remained in route to another ship. Remarkably, in a short 25-minute ride, I felt like I was leaving a friend — I believed she did also.

With just a few pages left to read, I am disappointed it will be ending. What a gift Marylin has given her family!

While I can occasionally miss a Best Day group meeting, I can’t help but to carry it within me wherever I go. It even leaves messages on walls to remind me.

At today’s Best Day group, Frank read from his book, and Ed shared the story of his cruise. Connections are everywhere!

Common Thread-Uncommon Women by  Marylin Hayes-Martin

Blog and photo by Karen Emig, Pitman’s Best Day Volunteer