It seems to be fate at work that my friendship with Ann started at Jan’s on Beverly, where she was my waitress 15 years ago, and ended here in America in a diner in North Hollywood, this past Saturday.
I met Ann when I was 22 and she was 53. I had just moved to LA that week. Ann says Buddhism saved her life in 1983 when she was in an abusive marriage and was about to commit suicide, and now she considers it her mission to spread the “magic” of Buddhism to everyone she meets so that they can share her joy.
Well I didn’t become a Buddhist today, as Ann had hoped, but I will say that she shared a chant with my mom and me 15 years ago that helps me fall asleep whenever I have a sleepless night, and calms me whenever I’m feeling restless or nervous. She also planted a huge seed of joy in my heart, that continues to grow.
I’m so grateful to have met her all those years ago, so thankful to have reconnected with her a few months ago, and am so sad for me (and happy for her) to see her go back to her native Thailand on Wednesday, where she will reunite with her husband, and retire, after working double shifts as a waitress for over 31 years.
I’m so proud that today I got to sit NEXT to Ann in a booth, and buy her and her friend Sunny lunch, instead of her bringing me my lunch. Full circle, indeed. The lesson here? Always be open. You never know the friends you will make in your day-to-day life, the lessons they will teach you, and the impact their spirits might have on you, so, keep your eyes, minds and hearts open. Always open.
Ann was one of my first friends in LA, and you know I don’t often believe in accidents. I’m a better person for knowing this angel we call Ann…better known in Thailand as Sarinya Chaimongkol.
p.s. I can’t wait to visit!