When you board a plane, you hope your flight will arrive on time and pray it will be safe. Lately I’ve had good luck with Delta. But a recent flight had a glitch. The resulting layover proved a reminder that life’s not all about the destination.
I sat in 12A (Economy Comfort). Beside me, a gal with black leggings, fringed brown leather boots, swingy blonde hair. Name: Susie. (Good sign.) In 12C: trendy navy & white checked shirt, navy U of M cap, Bob. Turned out our 737 needed a skid light. (Oookay.) We deplaned. My seatmates suggested I join them at the Sky Club. The next 4+ hours, instead of excruciating, turned out to be fun as I got to know Susie and Bob Ufer.
Here are the connections you might recognize. Their son-in-law is Shane Battier. As clueless as I am about sports, even I knew that name. My son Andy plays basketball twice a week, coaches his 3 daughters and last spring went to K-Camp at Duke. I emailed Andy. He shot back: “Incredible basketball career and solid reputation as a human being. Despite the fact that he went to DCD.” (Detroit Country Day. Andy went to rival prep school Cranbrook.) Shane, from Birmingham, MI, played for DCD and Duke and 13 years in the majors, winning 2 NBA championships with the Miami Heat.
Bob’s name rang a distant bell. Something athletic? I asked. Bob acknowledged his dad, same name, was the radio voice of “Meechigan” football for 37 years. Famous quote: “Football is a religion and Saturday is the Holy Day of Obligation.” (Google later reminded me Bob Ufer was also record setting track star.)
Son Bob—I’ll call him Delta Bob– confessed to being a “recovering attorney,” now entrepreneur. Susie taught special ed and also plays golf (my game of holy obligation). They took me under their wing as we waited, Bob checking to see if other flights were available for the 3 of us. (No luck.)
What inspired me to write about them was a story related to their next journey. They’ve since traveled to Boston to meet friends Raymond and Deedee Ouellet. Bob and Ray went to Yale together. They’ve been best friends and frequent travel pals ever since. Ray and Deedee met over 25 years ago when he was teaching in Paris at the American University and she was the school registrar. They’ve been together since, raising 2 sons. When older son Julien was graduating high school, for his gift he requested his parents get married. It didn’t happen. When younger son Remy graduated, he made the same request.
This time Ray and Deedee agreed. They asked Bob to officiate at his beach home on Bruin Lake (near Pinckney in southeast lower Michigan). Bob became a minister online. Ray and Deedee took the plunge (not literally) on the dock. They wrote their own vows. Deedee had been married once before and had never cared to be so again. But she began, “You gave me two of…” and started to cry.
The ceremony was witnessed by their happy sons, Yale friend Stephen Harrison and wife Carolyn, Ray’s brother Mark and wife Susan. (A 3-Susan blog post. Yay!) Also by the Ufers’ son Rob and husband Tim Kafka, and by daughter Heidi and Shane and guests of a party at their house down the beach.
I adore a good love story. Especially when it involves a union initiated by the offspring of that union.
(Bob and Susie recently traveled to Boston to support Deedee, who’s recovering from breast cancer. Sending out a survivor e-hug to Deedee.)
By the time our flight took off, I had made new BFFs. I shared Susie and Bob’s Metro car from the airport. We picked up Greek salads from my go-to bistro, Leo’s Coney Island, and returned to our house in Franklin to dine. Burton called. I told him I had company for dinner. Aghast, he said, “You invited strangers into our house?”
They were no longer strangers.