Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Close Encounters

This week we received a letter from our nephew and godson Patrick. What a treat to be the recipient of a letter from a member of a generation not known for its writing skills. I have written before about Patrick and the help he still gives to his Peace Corps host family in South Africa. His letter contained family news, but he had much to say about Nelson Mandela. How I loved this paragraph:

I once almost had a "chance encounter with him (Mandela) but my love of food intervened. I had just gotten my yearly physical in 1998 in Pretoria at Peace Corps Headquarters. I was waiting for a friend to arrive when boredom overtook me—well, what do I do when I'm bored? I eat. So I took a walk, had some "Bobotie (editor can't read this) " and returned 30 minutes later. The security guard says, "Patrick, where have you been? The others got to meet Nelson Mandela!" Turns out Mandela made a surprise visit at the Hospital down the street to visit some sick childen, and the Peace Corps got wind of it!"

This got us to talking and trying to answer the question , "Have you ever met anyone famous?" I thought the answer was obvious and said that in 1962 I had visited some fancy place (the Albert Hall?) and received my B.A. from the Queen Mother. I curtsied. But in my mind's eye I envisaged a gracious old personage, looking like the Queen Mother before she died. Not the way she looked in 1962. Queen Mary? No, she died in 1952. Did I imagine the whole thing? Maybe.

Which leaves us with a question. Who was the most famous person you ever met?

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