In December 1977, I was a freshman in college in Texas. I had a rather unusual experience on the flights I took to Liberia in order to celebrate Christmas with my family. Shortly before the semester break, I received a letter from my mom telling me to keep an eye out for a girl named Suzie who was going to be traveling to Liberia to see her parents who had moved there while she was in school. I thought I might meet her at JFK Airport, as there were not that many flights to Liberia each week. I was very surprised to meet her on my domestic flight! At our stop in DC, on the way to JFK, a girl my age got on the plane. After she settled in a seat in my aisle, I asked her where she was heading. She replied, “Liberia.” I asked, “Is your name Suzie?” She was surprised that I knew her name.
At JFK, while we waited to board our Pan Am flight, I ran into David Copal. Peggy, a girl I met in college had known him when they both lived in Greece as children. David was excited to hear that Peggy was still alive as she needed a heart and lung transplant and she was not expected to live into adulthood. (Sadly, both David and Peggy have since passed away.)
I then ran into another classmate at the airport and a third one after we got on the plane. The reunions weren’t over. As we were getting off the plane to stretch our legs at our stop in Senegal, I heard a voice behind me ask, "Kathy Beth? Kathy Beth Macdonald?" I was being hailed by a classmate I hadn't seen since 7th grade in Karachi, Pakistan! I introduced Suzie to all of them.
When we disembarked at Robertsfield, I was disappointed not to see my parents in the terminal. Suzie's parents were there and informed me that my parents had left, because my name wasn’t on the flight manifest. (I've no idea.) They gave me a ride to our house in Sinkor, stopping on the way to call via radio patch to telephone.
Do you have a favorite Christmas memory? Whether or not it's associated with Liberia, we would love to hear about it. Please email your memory (1 - 3 paragraphs) to KathyBeth4DignityLiberia@gmail.com. We will be sharing some of your Christmas memories on our Facebook page through December 22nd.