Award dinner sparks friendship
I cannot say what it is that brings people together, or why, upon meeting some people for the first time, you feel like you have known them forever. But it happens.
It has been said that we are all connected by thin threads which hold us over time; that each generation is a re-creation of a previous one; that what we do today is, in fact, inherited by future generations; that our actions shape the behavior of future generations.
I couldn’t help but reflect on these ideas earlier this month when Lech Kazynski and his wife, along with 94 others, went down in the plane crash in Russia, an event that rocked not only the government of Poland, but the Polish people, as well. The news that day jumped out at me like a banner waving before my eyes, stopped me in a moment of sad reflection.
The tragedy happened only days before I shared a table with a native of Poland, now a math professor at Kansas University, where she and her husband teach. The event was the Women’s Hall of Fame dinner where, along with others, Janet and Mary Murguia — both attorneys, judges and classmates of mine — were being inducted into the KU Women’s Hall of Fame.
A number of dignitaries, colleagues, friends and previous inductees had gathered for what is each year a stunning evening where we renew old friendships, discuss state and local politics and catch up on the news of the day. Barbara Ballard brought us up to date on current state legislation, and all were concerned about the impact of decreased funding on education.
The meal was lovely. I, however, due to a jaw problem, am only able to eat soft foods and soup.
My soup, a lovely seafood bisque, was served as elegantly as if it were a full meal. When it arrived, a woman sitting to my right, who turned out to be Bosenna Pasik-Duncan, a polish math professor, asked me what I was eating. I offered her a taste.
She looked at me quizzically. I shrugged my shoulders and said something about it being a habit of my family’s, sharing and tasting each other’s food. What made me do it then was a mystery.
We got to talking after she had tasted my soup. Her story is a story about falling in love, coming to this country, marrying, having a child, being a stellar math professor and having family yet in Poland.
When the evening finished, we exchanged nametags and she said to me, “I feel at home with you.”
Oh the comfort of feeling at home with one another — an honor that equals other awards given out that night.
When the news comes that one who so honored me has received such terrible news as the plane crash, her sorrow is mine, my comfort hers, a bittersweet mystery.