Magical Moments with Newfound Friends
By Doris Thompson Akron, IN
In the course of our job as travel agents, we have the pleasure of meeting a wonderful array of guests from all over the country and all over the world. Over the months of planning special vacations with our guests, we form a bond with them and in some cases become almost like family!
A case in point includes a guest/friend named Beverly. Beverly is from Pittsburgh where she works as an office manager and assistant to a very busy chiropractor. She is also the secretary for her Red Hat group and makes time to go camping almost every weekend in the summer. Bev and her husband Jim are a very special couple. Along with everything else in their everyday life, they provide a home for Bev’s father and her special needs sister, Kathy. With Bev’s daughter Aimee and son Dan, along with their families living close by, this close-knit unit spends as much time together as possible.
A few years back, Beverly found an ad for MouseEarVacations.com on one of her favorite Disney fan sites and asked for a vacation quote for a 4-night cruise and a short stay at Walt Disney World. This quote request was forwarded to me and with that simple act of fate, my life has forever changed. Our MouseFest cruise with added days at the “World” fit the bill to a tee, so I booked Bev and Kathy on this holiday retreat and the planning began! My husband Denny and I would also be sailing on this cruise and little did I know that from this day forward my life would become richer and fuller for knowing this amazing, loving family.
Everything was in place for the special Disney cruise / Disney World vacation when the unspeakable happened. Kathy was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition and needed immediate surgery to correct the problem. Beverly called with the bad news and was understandably worried and upset. Bev related that Kathy was telling every doctor, nurse, and anyone else who would listen, that she had to get better quickly because she and Bev were going to Disney World and on a Disney cruise! As the entire family gathered to support Kathy, this planned Disney retreat became her life thread, holding all of her hopes and dreams for the future.
As the family matriarch, Beverly shared her strength with her father, husband, children and grandchildren, but especially with Kathy. Kathy’s surgery was a success but left her with a long road to recovery ahead. As the months turned to weeks and weeks into days, the countdown to the special Disney vacation loomed near. When at last the day arrived to leave Pittsburgh behind for the sunny skies of Florida, Bev and Kathy were more than ready for some Disney magic -- and Disney magic is exactly what they got!
Over the course of the next few days at Walt Disney World and the 4-night Disney cruise, Kathy won prizes at the “Mega Meet” and the “Meet the Author” event. She was surprised with a very special birthday “cake” basket that was delivered to her Disney World resort room. This one of a kind “cake” consisted of candy bars and other packaged cookies and candies, such as Gummi Mickey’s! As the word of Kathy’s medical struggle spread through our little Disney community, more unexpected pixie dust was in store. It was arranged that Bev and Kathy would have a private meeting with the captain of the Disney Wonder, Captain Henry! Kathy was even allowed to blow the ship’s horn when we departed Castaway Cay! Even though the sprinkling of pixie dust was aimed at Kathy, Bev was overjoyed with all this extra attention that was being heaped upon her very special younger sister.
The December Disney Wonder cruise has become somewhat of a tradition for Bev and Kathy and included in the tradition are my husband and I, sharing the holiday enchantment right along with them. In 2006 they included Bev’s husband Jim, her daughter’s family, and her grandson Daniel. As Bev can tell you, there is nothing more special than seeing the magic of Disney through your grandchildren’s eyes! In 2007, Beverly and Kathy spent their holiday cruise with fellow Red Hat friends, Wynn, Millie, Angie and as an honorary Red Hat, I was along for the ride, too! Believe me, heads turned when the Red Hats, dressed in all their finery, arrived at dinner each evening!
So what’s ahead for Bev and Kathy? December 2008 is in the planning stages for a multi-generational cruise with Grandpa Pap, Kathy, Bev, husband Jim, daughter Aimee and son-in-law Jimmy, their children Andrew and Josh, son Dan and daughter-in-law Amy, and their children, Daniel, Austin, and Lily. Four generations will sail together making magical Disney memories that will last a lifetime! Denny and I will be sailing again, too, as part of the adopted extended family that we have become. We wouldn’t miss this for the world!