Dear Ruth

You came to us as a stranger from a strange land, and left as a valued member of our family.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said?

Well, I’m sure there’s quite a bit.

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To start off with, I’d like you to know how lucky all of us feel that you came to us. To be honest, it was with some trepidation that I agreed with Danae to sign up as a host family. I imagined the worst, things right out of a bad horror movie. How wrong I was.

We received your biography from the Girl Scouts a few weeks before you arrived, and it looked simply delightful. But, of course, me being the pessimist that I am, I thought t myself that it was far too good to be true.

You arrived in Boston, looking a little different from the blurry picture that we had of you (remember that Danae and the kids didn’t even recognize you, but I knew you right away). I was amazed at how, from the first moment, you seemed at ease with us, and we with you. It was almost as if you were meant to be with us. The kids immediately hung onto you as if you were their big sister!

I’ll never forget your reaction as we drove up to our house. It’s a mansion you exclaimed! I’m glad you like what you saw [[:-)]], but as I’m sure you discovered, it’s anything but a mansion by New England standards. I’m just glad we were able to provide you with a reasonable room and a comfortable bed.

I remember how you were a bit homesick and cried yourself to sleep for a few nights. But that soon passed. You were part of the family here, and you knew it. I guess we were able to act as a surrogate for your own family (which I sincerely hope to meet someday… to have produced such a wonderful person as yourself, they must be special indeed).

After a few hiccoughs, we settled into a routine: you waking up and making coffee, me getting ready for work while the rest slept . I’ll never forget how much you enjoyed the coffee here! It must be some phenomenon like Not invented here, because I remember how much I enjoyed the coffee when I visited Europe. Its probably the idea the the grass is always greener on the other side of the pond.

It was a bit of an adjustment getting used to your vernacular. Phrases such as I’ll be home for Tea and I was just shattered were as unfamiliar to us as Wicked good! is to you [[:-)]]. Here’s a link to [[The Wicked Good Guide]] to Boston English in case you forget!

When you first started at camp, you weren’t sure that you’d survive the summer. How wrong you were! By the end, the kids loved you and you loved them. Although I’m sure it was a relief to be finished with camp, I’m sure that there’s part of you that will always miss it.

I’m really glad you met and had a friend from the old country in Brianie (is that the right way to spell it?). In many ways, she was a godsend. She was there when you really needed a connection with home, and was a friend you own age with whom you could go and have your own adventures.

I wish that we had more time to show you some of the more interesting things around New England. Remember, we’re transpants here, and as such we’ve seen more than most New Englanders have.

You found your own way, and for that I’m glad. I was very aware that one of the reasons you were here was to experience the strange American culture for yourself, and I hope that you believe that I encouraged you to do so. Although I grew to think of you as a daughter (one that was only a few years younger than me [[:-)]]), I tried to make sure that you always knew that you had the freedom to do as you will (even if we got a little worried about you from time to time).

One of the first things you did was take a trip to Newport, RI. What a beautiful place! And I’ll never forget how you took the trip up to Maine for the weekend and ended up sleeping in our van because you wanted to save the money! It’s something only a college student would think of. What an experience!!!

The next joy was meeting your boyfriend Mark. I hope he enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed his! He’s a spectacular young man. But evenso, he’s lucky to have you (and I hope he realizes this! [[:-)]]). You deserve nothing less.

I’m sorry that I didn’t get the [[Scott Joplin]] music copied for your father. If you give me an address, I’ll make sure to send him the best of the best.

Well, that’s all I can think of. Our lives are better for having you in them. Thank you for becoming a part of them. I hope that this doesn’t end up being the only time we meet.