Here are three true stories from my actual life:
#1: Many years ago now, when my husband and I were actually young, we befriended a student at the university named Marlan, who was from Alaska. Three years into our friendship, I was talking to my mom on the phone one day, and she said, “You know, if you ever think about it, you should look up a student named Marlan Ball. He’s the son of our dear friends Virgil and Annette.” I remembered the Balls, and the fun I’d had playing with Marlan’s older sisters. The fact that he belonged to that Ball family had never come up in the three years we’d known him! Accidental mult-generational friendship!
#2: When our son Flynn was a student at the university, he was good friends with two guys named Chris and Joel, who were both missionary kids from Japan. They were often at our house. After we had known them for three years, they were over at our house one night and Joel mentioned in passing that his mother had also been a missionary kid from Japan. I did some mental math and asked him if his mom had gone to the Christian Academy of Japan. Yes.
Me: “I bet she must know my friend Mary, who also went there. They would be close in age.”
Him (looking stunned): “Yes, we know Mary. In fact, she and my mom were roommates when they lived in Indiana.
Me (I met Mary in Indiana and knew both of her roommates): “So what was your mom’s name?”
Me: “Oh, I know Flossie!”
Him: mind blown. His expression could serve as a definition of the word “gobsmacked.”
#3: Over the last few weeks, Mercy has often invited her friend Daniel over. He helped decorate our Christmas tree. Mercy has known him since her semester in Korea a couple of years ago. So anyway, he spent the night with us last night because he had to get out of the dorm yesterday. Yesterday evening, he mentioned that his mother had grown up as a missionary kid in Zimbabwe. Today at lunch, I was thinking maybe my parents would have heard of his grandparents, so I asked what his mother’s maiden name was. Him: “McCloy.” Hmmm . . . We knew a Danny McCloy who was a student at the university many years ago. He was an MK, and I started to ask my husband if Danny had been from Zimbabwe, when Daniel volunteered, “Danny is my uncle. My mom’s brother.” Mind blown. Daniel and Mercy have been friends for over two years, and this was the first we heard of an Africa connection, let alone that his uncle was an old friend of ours!
Does stuff like this happen to you? Stuff like this happens to us all the time. The older we get, the more it happens. It doesn’t hurt that we both grew up overseas and have friends all over the world. But we’ve found that at least for us, there are significantly fewer than six degrees of separation between us and others!
P.S. I still have no idea what Daniel’s last name is.