Regular readers might remember my recent post about Il Ponte Bistantis in Catanzaro.
It is a stunning bridge with a nice history and unparalleled views of Catanzaro’s valleys.
But more than forty years ago another bridge – thousands of miles away in southeast Texas – altered history and changed the lives of all of my family members.
That bridge is The Rainbow Bridge.
I want to share this story as delicately as possible and respect the rights of those who were directly involved, therefore names and some identifying details have been altered. This is a story of fate. It is a story of destiny. It’s a story of my family’s past.
My cousinJim, his wife Penny and their three small children lived in a small town in southeast Texas on the other side of this bridge. Penny had a sister, who also had three small children. Penny’s sister wasn’t a responsible stay-at-home-type of mother. She rarely visited this small town and constantly moved, along with her children, to cities throughout America.
Penny rarely spoke to her sister and never knew, at any given moment, where her sister lived. Instead, Penny spent her days caring for her children and tending to her mother who lived nearby.
Meanwhile, a thousand miles away in northern Ohio, three small children were taken to a local orphanage. They were left there, where administrators were told these children had no family to help with their care.
The children were very young, ranging in age from a few months old to five years old, so they couldn’t answer many questions about their family history.
One day a young man visited the orphanage to donate boxes of clothes from a local church. The oldest of the children was standing nearby and started to rummage through a box. He found a jacket, pulled it out and tried it on, as the adults continued to talk.
“Wow,” Bobby said. “I used to have a jacket just like this. My Aunt Penny bought it for me.”
At the mention of the word “aunt,” the staff member and church leader stopped talking and looked at the young boy.
“You have an aunt, Bobby?” They asked him.
“Yep. I have an aunt and an uncle and they bought me a jacket just like this one.”
The duo began to quiz him.
“What is their last name?”
“Do they live near here?”
“Nope. It is far.”
“Well, where is it?”
“Dunno … .”
The man from the church turned to leave as it seemed they had reached a dead end.
“The only thing I do know,” added the child, “is that you have to go over a tall, tall bridge that goes all the way into the sky … like a rainbow.”
The man, stunned, turned to Bobby.
“Is it the Rainbow Bridge, Bobby?”
“Yep. That is it. It is the Rainbow.”
The man from the church had recently relocated to Ohio, from a small town in southeast Texas and he knew the tall, tall bridge Bobby referred to.
He shared this information with the orphanage, who immediately got on the phone and began calling the local government in this small town. They still didn’t know Penny’s last name or how to find her.
The phone rang in this government office in this small Texas town and a young lady accepted the call. She heard they were looking for a girl named Penny, whose sister had three small children.
She asked the officials to hold a moment, looked at her colleague and said, “Penny? Wasn’t your sister in Ohio?”
And the rest is family history.
Penny and her husband Jim adopted these three young children and in an instant their family tree doubled. Of course it wasn’t an easy process-these things rarely are, but the story here today is a remarkable tale of faith and destiny. And isn’t it a perfect showing of love for this Love Thursday?