Decades before the internet, George Ghossn and Lori Gertz became pen pals. It was quite common back then, to meet new friends by exchanging letters. Even my mother had a pen pal from Japan, the land of her ancestors.
George was from East Islip, New York, while Lori was from San Diego. He was 15 and she was 12.
The two pen pals finally met each other this month after 42 years of writing each other. There had been many attempts to set up a meeting, and finally, after over four decades, they saw each other for the first time on April 11.
In an interview with ABC News, Gertz says, “He was superstitious. He never wanted to do it.” She admits she was always curious.
I guess you could say that it would take the universe to conspire for these two friends to meet in person. Gertz was scheduled to go on a trip with her 18-year-old son to visit Hofstra University, which was relatively close to where Ghossn lives. She decided it was high time the two of them met.
The two pen pals began writing each other after they had received a chain letter. “It said to send out five letters, and you were supposed to receive thousands back. I got four letters back… One was from Lori.”
The two served as each other’s diaries. They wrote each other once a month and talked about things that were going on in their lives. They talked about school, their dreams, and their respective families.
“When we were young, we painted idyllic pictures of our lives,” says Gertz. “It was almost cursory, but as the years went on, it became more mature in what we discussed in the letters.”
The most amazing part of this story is that the two have stayed in touch all these years, and that they have treasured each and every handwritten letter they wrote each other.
The two share a very special relationship. It is not romantic, it never was. They are more like siblings. Ghossn says he thinks of Gertz as a sister. His brothers are all dead and he is left with no living family members.
“I love George. George is a staple in my life. My whole family knows George … It’s my longest relationship that I’ve had with anybody. It’s beautiful,” says Gertz.
Photo credit: abcnews.go.com