baktash and i were on a road trip to minneapolis to see my parents before they moved back to haifa, israel after living back in the states for only shy of nine months. the drive is long (9 hours, to be exact) from rapid city to the twin cities, and mitchell, south dakota is kind of in the middle of the drive, a place where one inevitably has to stop to grab a snack or a coffee in order to keep trucking along.

mitchell is a small town with the best coffee being served at a mcdonalds or a gas station. and forget it, i cannot drink coffee from a gas station if i know its been sitting there 10 hours or has been reheated from the week before. so we decided to go high class. and went to mcdonalds. okay, so the entire trip up until mitchell, every place we stopped to use the restroom, get gas, etc., i had this OVERWHELMING feeling that i was going to see someone that was interviewed from David Lynch's Interview Project. having just weeks before, watch nearly 60 episodes, (they are fascinating, so shoot me), it was fresh in my mind and i don't know how to explain it. I JUST FELT LIKE I WAS GOING TO SEE SOMEONE FROM THE INTERVIEW PROJECT. seeing as how they only interviewed i think 4 people in sodak total, i knew that this was a little far fetched and my odds were basically next to nil. nonetheless, i kept getting this nagging feeling; every gas station, i'd scan the cars, or the people walking about to see if i recognized anyone. it was REALLY FREAKIN' BIZARRE.

THEN, AS WE PULL UP TO PARK @ MCDONALDS, GRACE WICK GETS OUT OF THE PASSENGER DOOR THAT PARKED FOUR CARS AWAY FROM US AT THE SAME EXACT TIME. IT WAS HER. and i knew it immediately (and how strange is THAT??). i GRABBED my husband and tried to control my excitement. "ITS HER!! IT'S HER, BAK!! ITS THE WOMAN FROM THE INTERVIEW PROJECT!! I TOLD YOU I WAS GOING TO SEE SOMEONE! I KNEW IT!" i continued to strangle his arm while trying to contain myself from running up to this near 90 year old woman and startling her like crazy. she looked the same as she did on the Interview Project, just a bit older and more frail.
this is what the Interview Project summarized of their visit with her:

"We met Grace Wick at the Post Office in Mitchell, South Dakota. Since she had some more errands to run, she suggested that we meet at her house later on to conduct the interview. Once we reconvened, Grace told us about her childhood on a farm in Lyman County, South Dakota and how she met her husband. Since his death a year and a half ago, Grace has lived alone in Mitchell. She plans to sell their home and counts church and her family as the most important things in her life today."

and i strongly urge you to watch the entire interview (its about 3 minutes). click here for her entire interview

i stood in line, just studying her face -- there was NO way that this wasn't the woman i had seen a week ago online. there is no way. i was convinced. then Bak was like, "layli, a lot of old ladies look alike, i wouldn't be so sure". yeah whatever, i thought. i approached her and introduced myself and said, "excuse me, miss, i am sure this will sound very strange to you, but i just saw you on the internet, it was a short interview about your life and i am blown away to see you in real life, right now!". grace kindly replied, "i'm sorry, you must have me mistaken for someone else". "are you sure??" i asked, convinced it was her. she said yes, it wasn't true. so i apologized and excused myself while what i assumed was her daughter and her ordered ice cream sundaes. when grace was getting her treat, i approached the daughter: "i am so sorry to bother you, but i am sure i saw your mother on the internet. she was talking about how she had a painting business with her husband and she was trying to sell her house"

daughter: oh my gosh, you are right!! that was a couple of years ago though!
me: wowww, i had no idea it was that long ago!
daughter: mom! don't you remember a film crew coming to your house and interviewing you about your life?
grace: not sure. what did i talk about?
me: you spoke of your husband and the farm and how his family thought they were better than everyone else.
laughter ensues
grace: oh my goodness! i had forgotten all about that!
me: i KNEW it!
daughter - in shock
baktash - in awe

as i approached grace and her daughter to say goodbye after we sat a bit and drank our coffee, i felt myself so moved and almost even emotional. like we had a strong connection. it was really quite beautiful. we chatted a bit more and i told her how my family was moving back to israel, and that is why we are on the road trip from Rapid to Minneapolis. i think she could sense that i was having a hard time with it, she said she was so sorry to hear that, and she was so sorry that we won't be as close anymore, and that distance can make families even closer. it really soothed me actually. i then told her how amazing and blown away i was that i had met her that night, knowing that i was going to meet someone that i had seen on the Interview Project. i told her i had had this overwhelming feeling the entire road trip up until mitchell, sodak, that i was going to meet someone from that project. and then i met grace. interestingly, she was the one that stuck with me the most. out of the 50 some interviews i'd watched. i told her how amazing it was, even somewhat "magical/other worldly". and she replied by saying so matter of fact, "when something like this happens, it's so hard to not believe in something bigger than ourselves. we were meant to meet, i am sure of that". grace said all of that so matter-of-fact. it was so cool, because i felt it so definitely too. at this point, i didn't even want to leave her, as i felt like we were such dear friends. really, like kindred spirits. i could have stayed and listen to ronald mcdonald singing a terrible song, looping over and over for hours. for her, i would have.

grace had shared with me that she had sold her house and now was in a smaller apartment in town, she said she goes back to the farm to be close to her children. she asked me more about what she shared in the interview, as she couldn't remember. i told her that she had said that the "two most important things in her life were her faith and her family". she said, that hasn't changed with a very warm smile.

i left that evening feeling so full and blessed with life. the mysteries we experience, the magic and beauty in "chance" encounters and deep heartfelt, sincere connections with near strangers.


jamie h. said...


samimi-extremie said...

jamie, thanks, it truly WAS awesome!

Kya said...

What a truly wonderful posting!

I especially like your last line ~ isn't it so true that we are closer to strangers than we think. Interconnected in the most fundamental humanness of our lives ~ the same fears and hopes. It doesn't surprise me in the least that you foresaw your meeting with this beautiful spirit. You have always been devoted to your relationship with a higher consciousness and for this I am in awe of you and all that you represent. Thank you for continuing to share your insights with all of us Lahli ~ I love you dearly.

Jamie said...

Seriously, this is like, one of the coolest things ever. I had to re-read and re-watch the interview.

mardee musick said...

I just found this on Google. Grace Wick is my mother, she has seven children and I am one of her five daughters. It was my sister Jean who lives in Mitchell that you met with our mother at McDonald's. Your blog about Mom is very sweet and portrays her so kindly . We thank you for that. Mom will be 90 on March 23 this year, she has slowed down some, but my sisters Kathy and Jean help keep her busy. . Mom decided to open a small cafe in her late 70's & ran it with my sister Kathy. Their next venture was a local gift shop. At the end of her working days Mom was 86 when she retired. She also worked the local food bank for the Salvation Army. Both of my parents had a strong work ethic. Funny enough but typical of her, a few months after Mom left the food bank, she was sorry she had quit, because now she had nothing to keep her busy. Thank you for writing this article and capturing the essence of our Mother.
(Please note: Mardee Musick is a pseudonym I use on Twitter, my real name is Mary).