Saturday, January 06, 2007

Family Secret Revealed

Once in awhile a manager needs to jump in to try to fix something when a staff member just can’t seem to make headway. It’s best when asked to jump in, but some people just won’t ask for help. It was one of those occasions that caused me to pick up the phone and call a customer.

It was a couple years- and jobs- ago. It was not often that I did this. The person managing the account was having difficulty with a buyer, and I had a good relationship with the president of that company so I made the call to politely and tactfully explain that his buyer was a tyrannical imbecile.

When the receptionist answered the phone I stated my name and company, and asked to speak to Mr. D. She politely asked me to hold and she would ring his office. I listened to the hold music for a few seconds, noticing it was a song from one of our competitors, when the receptionist came back on the line.

“Excuse me, I’m sorry to make you wait, but do you by any chance know a Marilyn (last name- same as mine)?” she asked.

“Yes I do, I responded, my mother’s name is Marilyn.”

Another question from the curious receptionist- “Have you ever lived in Hawaii?”

“Yes we did- many years ago”

A 30 minute conversation ensued with Donna, broken up several times when she needed to put me on hold to answer incoming calls. It turns out she was a sixteen year old runaway in 1975, when I was 9 years old, and my mother pulled the car over on the side of the road near Honolulu to chat with an unkempt, unwashed, backpack carrying young girl. Serious problems at home had caused her to runaway, and after hearing about them didn’t disagree at all with her solution. An amazing story unfolded.

My mother, with me in the car according to Donna, had pulled over and started a conversation. After awhile my mom invited her to come to our house to bathe and eat, and think about what she should do next and where she should go that was safe. She ended up living at our house for several months (I do not remember this at all) and started to go to church with our family and made new friends. She was able to move out and into a safe home, and over the next year or so lost touch with my mom.

I never did talk with Mr. D that day- I was too stunned after hearing the story of this half-sister of sorts that I never knew about. When the conversation with Donna was over, we simply said goodbye and I hung up. I didn’t remember to call Mr. D back until the next day.

When I got home from work I called my mom to relay the story and the greeting from Donna. Mom lit up, confirmed the story, and asked how she was doing. I gave her Donna’s work and home number.

I have never heard my mom or dad ever mention her or that she lived with us, and was amazed at what Donna had told me. She firmly believes her life was saved the day my mom picked her up. Her life has changed dramatically- she is committed to God, married, has children, and loves life and all it has to offer. I guess mom is pretty cool after all (just kidding mom!).

So, I am sure it was just a coincidence that on this random day I called and talked to a receptionist 500 miles away that within a few minutes filled me in on a part of my life I didn't remember, made me even more proud of my parents, and encouraged me once again that God changes lives, right?

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