In December of final yr, Karlee Liljegren, 31, despatched an e-mail to one among her employees members in Selkirk, Man., wishing them a contented vacation. She did not get a response, so she despatched three extra emails. When she lastly heard again, it wasn’t from her worker.
“I acquired a response from somebody named David Mckenzie who lived in England. It mainly mentioned: ‘I am undecided why you are emailing me about Selkirk, Manitoba.'”
It seems Liljegren had the fallacious e-mail deal with. Due to a typo, as an alternative of emailing her worker, she had been emailing 76-year-old David Mckenzie from Sutton Courtenay, a small village in England.
Whereas confused as to why he had acquired the e-mail, he wished to supply his help nonetheless. In his e-mail response he wrote, “If I am having one among my Tremendous Pensioner days I’ll endeavour to help…. Alternatively if it is raining once more I am going to in all probability simply keep in and drink cocoa.”
Liljegren was so charmed by his response that she wrote him again. Now, properly into the brand new yr, the 2 pen buddies have exchanged dozens of emails chronicling their lives, sharing photographs and telling jokes. Throughout a time when human connection has been at an all-time low, Liljegren and Mckenzie have constructed a long-distance friendship.
‘I simply despatched one thing ridiculous’
Mckenzie is an Australian expat residing in Sutton Courtenay, simply outdoors of Oxford, England. He’s usually a really busy man, volunteering to drive the native ambulance and caring for his church. Nevertheless, because the pandemic started, he is needed to put many of those actions on maintain, staying dwelling to remain protected. In reality, that is the place he was when he acquired Liljegren’s first e-mail.
“I am sitting there bored, in all probability watched far an excessive amount of tv and right here comes this e-mail, I could not fairly determine it out,” he mentioned. “So, I simply despatched one thing ridiculous in reply and it turned out it was from an actual individual.”
The practically 50-year age hole between the 2 does not appear to have been too huge to bridge. In reality, for Liljegren, it was an added bonus.
“All my grandpas have handed away so it is good to have a grandpa determine,” she mentioned.
Though Mckenzie already has 4 grandchildren, he wrote that he would “fortunately accommodate a fifth, supplied you don’t need Rudyard Kipling jungle tales or house exploration fantasies at 3 a.m.”
Tales of the BRATPAC
Even when he will not keep up till 3 a.m. studying Kipling, Mckenzie, like several good grandfather, is a storyteller.
In a single e-mail, he regales Liljegren with the story of a brand new affiliation that has sprung up in his city in response to a surplus of untamed peacocks. The affiliation’s identify? The British Royal Historic Tiger Peacock and Aardvark Camaraderie or the BRATPAC. And what do they do?
“A couple of of us began up a cooking competitors for the peacocks. Within the village newspaper we began publishing recipes for cooking and braising and barbecuing the peacocks,” he mentioned.
Liljegren additionally likes to share tales about Winnipeg. Through the Christmas season, she and Mckenzie exchanged photographs of various Christmas lights. Mckenzie despatched footage of the attractive shows on London’s Bond Avenue and Liljegren despatched footage of the colorful lights in Transcona.
Whereas it could appear to be a transatlantic stretch that two random individuals might join over a misfired e-mail, neither is shy about making associates.
“I have a tendency to do this anyway, I speak to individuals in lifts, or if I am strolling down the road and any individual seems to be a bit down within the mouth, I begin speaking to them, so that is simply an extension,” Mckenzie mentioned. “I really like doing it.”
Liljegren has the identical intuition, describing herself as pleasant and talkative. “It is form of unusual that we’re each form of like that and simply discovered one another via a random e-mail,” she mentioned.
Along with the jokes and tales about England, Liljegren recounts that Mckenzie’s newest e-mail had some excellent news. “Grandpa acquired the vaccine! I am so joyful! And grandma is getting hers on Friday.” she gushed.
So, with vaccines placing worldwide journey again in sight, is there an opportunity these two will ever meet? Nicely, Mckenzie plans on attending a marriage in Halifax in 2022, and, based mostly on what Liljegren has advised him, he’s intent on making a cease in Manitoba.
“Polar bears not removed from Winnipeg and elk operating throughout the highway and skating trails,” he mentioned. “Seems like nice enjoyable.”