In 1971, I was without a job or apartment, living with friends in Boston. A friend told me about a place on the south shore that was hiring, so I got a ride there. This place was an old abandoned summer camp that a Catholic Priest and a social worker were about to open as a camp for what they called “last-chance kids” who were graduating from the juvenile justice system into the adult system. They had a vision of stability, help and work in a beautiful place as a healing, turn-around possibility. I wasn’t sure if I was applying to be a resident or a staff person but they hired me as staff and that was where I lived that summer.
I met Terry, another staff person, there. We didn’t get along well, but the next winter we would meet for tea in Boston and a real friendship grew between us. All through our 20s we were best friends. I knew her entire family except for her big brother who lived on the West Coast. We grew up together then, sharing a lot of hard times and a lot of laughter.
Twelve years later, when she decided to get married, her wedding day concurred with her brother Fred’s trip east for a visit. Fred and I finally met that day and got along quite well. He came to visit me in Portland, Maine, where I was then living. In December he planned to have Christmas with his folks and New Year’s Eve with me, but a week before Christmas he called to say he couldn’t make it; he had too much work. He suggested sending the ticket to me so I could go visit him. I was not pleased with this idea and said no.
A few days later, I remembered that it was against my principles to turn down a free ticket to just about anywhere, so I arranged to visit Fred in Portland, Oregon, for two weeks in February.
Three months later, after selling almost everything I owned except for a dozen boxes of books and my cat, I was on my way to be with Fred in Portland. A year later we were married. Six years later, our daughter Mia was born.
Fred claimed for many years to be an atheist. I would tease him and say we were proof of the existence of God. And if not God, then angels. The series of unlikely Yeses I made on the road to our life together was proof, to me, of divine intervention. He would bring his intellectual skepticism to this and say it was just luck and good judgement on my part that I said yes to him. I knew it was too many unlikely yeses to be less than the guiding Light.
Eventually he came to make his own great unlikely Yes by joining me at West Hills Friends, where we attended together for many years until his death in 2012. He died understanding that long string of Yeses as the proof I claimed it to be.