03 June 2008

It finally happened!

Today was a very special day. I FINALLY met someone who's name has been a household staple since I was about ten years old. This afternoon, I had the great pleasure of meeting the man (THE MAN!) my father worked for (the BOSS!) when my father was a treasurer for Hawk's Nest Mining Company in Montgomery, WV. (Photo right: Harry Burke, Susie and Barbe.)
Mr. Harry Burke in the flesh. What a guy! He'd heard my name in conjunction with my Dad no doubt sharing some of my antics as I was growing up, back in Charleston, West Virginia, when Mr. Burke would visit the office from "headquarters" in Chicago, Ill., where he held the position of Chief Financial Officer with F. H. Prince. I'd heard his name when my Dad would share at dinner that "the boss", would be visiting the mine. We "knew" of each other, Mr. Burke and me, but we had never shared the same space.

Mr. Burke and his companion, the lovely Marsha, were in Hampstead this week visiting his sister, Janet, and so my parents were invited to drive up and have coffee. Last year when they were in town, I missed out on their visit to our home because I was on my way to Fayetteville to meet Katie's train, however, my son had recorded the event with photos and I did blog about it. (Click here to read about last year's visit).

This year, however, I was in town and ducked away from work early in order to finally have a face-to-face with this iconic figure. I felt instantly that I knew him so rather than a polite, stiff handshake, we dispensed with all that and went straight for the hug. What a precious moment for me.

As I sat this afternoon in Janet's lovely Hampstead home, and enjoyed the company of these friends, so many childhood memories flooded my consciousness. Mr. Burke and my Dad have always had a special bond and, separated in age by only a couple of weeks (my Dad will insist that I state for the record that he is the younger of the two), they have maintained their friendship through over 22 years into retirement, even though most of that time Mr. Burke and my dad have lived on opposite sides of the country. However, throughout those years, they have kept the lines of communication open and humming in frequent, lengthy phone conversations and through the magic of e-mail.

My Dad was sharing a story of when he first met Mr. Burke and casually mentioned that he was just 47 years old when he met this man for the first time and it occurred to me that he was a year younger than my present age of 48. It's amazing to me that I was no more than ten years old when I first heard of this Mr. Burke fella.

Today was indeed a sweet gift and extreme blessing. I'm so glad these friends could enjoy a visit and have the chance to relive their interesting history, in person, over a delicious dessert and fine coffee. I'm also thankful that I had the opportunity to share some time with these two special men. It was a warm afternoon, and it wasn't simply because of the weather. This afternoon was a very special honor for me.

Let's do it again next year, Mr. Burke!