04 January 2012

It's a small world....

Yes, this world of ours is very small, smaller than I ever imagined!

To begin this tale, I have to go back about 38 years ago, when I was working as the assistant station manager for an airline at the international airport serving San Jose, Costa Rica. I was checking in a northbound flight to Managua and San Salvador, when a young woman approached the counter to check-in and get her boarding pass. She was obviously very distraught, so I simply asked for her passport and proceeded to check her in and tag her baggage. When I verified her ticket matched her passport, I did a double take! She had the SAME last name as mine, Heger. I have never know anyone by this last name, spelled the same way, that wasn't somehow related.

I didn't say anything about it to her then, because she obviously had something else on her mind and I didn't want to pry. She was accompanied by a young man that appeared to be looking after her to make sure she was alright and able to make her flight. A few minutes later, I was working the boarding gate and I saw her board the flight. Shortly after take-off, I was back at the ticket counter (we wore many hats back in those days) and I saw her companion walking through the airport lobby, so I called out to him.

I excused myself for prying, but I wanted to know if he was related to the Señorita Heger that had just boarded our flight. He responded, "Yes, she is my sister." I asked, "Is you last name Heger?" and he said, "Yes, it is." So, I told him that my maiden name is also Heger and I showed him my I.D. His immediate reaction was the same as mine when I saw his sister's passport. He said all the folks he knows with the last name spelled "Heger" have always been related.

Thus began a search to see if he and his sister were somehow related to me. He knew that his grandfather came from Germany sometime around the early 1900's by boat to New York City and sometime after that he migrated to Costa Rica. I know my grandfather also came from Germany, around the same time, by boat to New York City. My grandfather subsequently migrated to California, where he met my grandmother and started a hardware store.

Señor Heger and I decided we would contact family members that had more of the genealogy to see if we could be cousins. Sr. Heger wrote to his cousin in Switzerland and I wrote to my cousin in California. A month, or so, later we got the results. It turns out Sr. Heger's grandfather and my grandfather were first cousins and they came to the United States on the same boat. My grandfather decided to go West and his grandfather stayed in NYC until he decided to try to Costa Rica.

Needless to say, shortly after this discovery we had a family reunion at his family's Quinta (small hacienda) in Santa Ana, Costa Rica. There I met the rest of this side of the family and they got to meet my two sons. I also had the opportunity to meet the Señorita Heger. Shortly after that, I moved back to the U.S. with my sons and I lost touch of the Heger family in Costa Rica.

Fast forward to today, 38 years later...

Since John and I retired here in Costa Rica last July, we've been talking about getting a "QuickPass" for our vehicle so we don't have to always have change for the new toll road between our town and the capitol, San Jose. We had to go to San Jose again today to try and get my broken Blackberry fixed. Since we had some time to kill, we decided to stop in at a local bank and sign-up for the "Quickpass". In order to setup the account, I needed my national I.D. and a utility bill proving my residence. I just happened to have a water bill with me, showing our address and the name of our Sociedad Anonima, so I gave this to the young man at the bank's new account desk. Our property is owned by our Sociedad Anonima (same as a corporation in the States) in the name of "Heger y Wegner, S. A."

The young man, Jonathan, took one look at it and says, "It's none of my business, but I'm curious why the name Heger is part of you S.A." I explained it is my maiden name. Jonathan pulled out his national identity card and shows me his mother's maiden name is also "Heger". (The latin culture always carries the father last's name and the mother's maiden name. Women do not change their last name when they marry. They retain their maiden name for life.)

I asked Jonathan a few questions and it turns out that his great uncle is the same distant cousin of mine that I met 38 years ago! His great aunt, the young woman I check in for that long ago flight at the airport, has just recently passed away.

Yes, it's a small world after all, smaller than I ever imagined!

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