My mother was never one to tell stories, especially her own. But there was one she had that was special to her. My mother attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where she studied voice. Shortly after getting engaged she went into the ladies room at school and saw a fellow voice student admiring an engagement ring in the mirror. They compared and admired engagement rings and talked about their future husbands. My mother was going to marry a Naval Academy grad on his first year of duty, her fellow student Coretta Scott was going to marry Martin Luther King.
Coretta Scott King and my mother were married in the same year 1953, and died of cancer in the same year, 2006. As far as I know the New England Conservatory ladies room mirror was their only point of contact but I like to imagine the scene my mother described: two talented and beautiful young women excitedly talking about the future paths they were embarking on, and congratulating each other.
The paths were very different but I know they were each very proud of their families. I never knew Coretta Scott King but when I hear her sing, I immediately recognize the same beautifully trained voice I heard when my mother sang hymns at church. I also recognize that great lives are always around us, sometimes very close, but only visible if we take the time to truly observe them.