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A true Thanksgiving

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A chance meeting of my sister and brother-in-law’s neighbour at Thanksgiving reminded me of this story.

It all started when we were on the last leg of our journey home from a vacation in Portugal. At the Chicago airport, we learned that our flight to Winnipeg was cancelled and that Japan, where our eldest son Doug lives, had been hit by the terrible earthquake and tsunami.

We were terrified over the bits of news that were emerging, and we did not yet know the areas affected by the disaster. I was in a state where I couldn’t fathom the disaster and needed to get home.

We got in line to book another flight home and ended up chatting with a very friendly lady, Sagietta, who was also affected by the cancellation. We all decided to fly through Toronto as that seemed the most effective way of getting back to Winnipeg. We stuck together in the airport and shared the events of our day with Sagietta and the concern we had for our son in Japan.

In the meantime, I needed to call our son Dan to let him know about our situation. I was not thinking clearly and could not remember the pin to my calling card. I was attempting to place a collect call when our new friend insisted that I use her calling card. I was embarrassed at her generosity and by my own confusion and insisted she didn’t need to do that. Sagietta would hear none of it. In fact, she wrote out her pin number and insisted I keep it in case I needed it again.

After talking to our son Dan, we were reassured that both our son Doug and his friend Yoshiko were safe and unaffected by the terrible events of the day. The sense of relief was overwhelming, and we no longer cared about missed flights and winter storm delays.

We flew off to Toronto on the same flight as Sagietta who had been so helpful and supportive to us. We said our goodbyes in Toronto where she went off to spend the night with family and we opted to stay at the airport and catch an early flight to Winnipeg.

Now here we were, face to face with each other at our Thanksgiving celebration. What a joy to meet this lovely lady again and under such incredible odds.

She told us she had shared our story with many. She told us of her memory of me talking on the phone in the Chicago airport while tears of joy and immense relief flowed down my cheeks as I received the news that our son was alive.

Our memory was of the generosity of a stranger who helped us out when we needed it the most.

Thank-you Sagietta. What a joy and an honour it is to meet you and to truly thank you for your generous spirit. This thanksgiving we felt especially blessed to meet you again.

— Heather and Doug Abrahamson

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