Today for the first time in a very long time I picked someone up at the international arrivals area of Newark Airport. To be honest I don’t think I ever picked someone up there before. When we had family visit from Great Britain when I was a kid, they flew into JFK. I was trying to remember when was the last time I ventured into the international arrival area of any airport. As I pondered that I realized it was a few years ago at JFK when my daughter Meghan returned from Ireland – I think. Meghan was my world traveler. During her high school and college days, she took full advantage of the travel/study aboard concept. She visited Italy (twice), France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland (twice), England and Scotland as well as a couple of trips to St Thomas. A few years ago when there were no trips scheduled outside of the continental United States, she had commented “this is the first time since 2002 that I haven’t left the US!” So I have a vague memory of watching and waiting to see Meghan at JFK but I can’t tell you where she had been. I do know it is always good when your child has traveled safely home and you are hugging them and waiting to hear all the details of the trip.
Today I was at Newark Airport to pick up my aunt and uncle. I found my way to the international arrivals area but I wasn’t really sure if I was in the right place. I wasn’t sure this was the only place my aunt and uncle would be able to exit immigration and customs. An occasional flight attendant or pilot would walk out of the customs area, wheeling their suitcase, looking very professional. But there weren’t very many travelers exiting. I decided to take a seat and wait. I am grateful there were rows of bench type chairs. As I headed to a chair, a man was heading to the same chair. There was a funny moment as we realized we were both “aiming for the same place”. I changed my direction to seat a row ahead of my original destination and said “I won’t fight you for it. I will just sit here instead.” We both chuckled and sat down and I asked “Do you know if this is the only exit?”. He was hoping it was because he had been waiting for over an hour for his friend/family from Amsterdam. He inquired where was the flight I was waiting for from and I said “Manchester, England.” This lead to him sharing the story of being in England in 1955 as a young service man. I shared the story of my folks meeting in England just a few years before. He told the story of an English woman who was so very kind to him and his friend. He said she was about 25 years older than he was. He was just 19 years old and his English wasn’t good because he is from Puerto Rico. The woman’s name was Molly and she watched out for him and his friend. She took them to church. He laughed as he said she tried to “keep us out of trouble.” He would travel back to England through the years to see her. She would leave her house to him and his friend when she died because she had no family. It was an amazing story. After awhile I would see my aunt and uncle approaching, I said “take care.”. He extended his hand to shake mine and said “My name is Walter.” I said “My name is Ann. It was lovely talking to you.” Walter said “God bless you”. What a delightful encounter.