I hold a special place in my heart for reunion stories, because I have a pretty amazing one of my own. My father, Bob Curry, and my mother, Hiroe Nagase, fell in love while he was a sailor stationed in Japan at the end of World War II. My mother, a rice farmer's daughter, was working as a streetcar conductor. One day my father noticed her, and he began taking that streetcar every day for weeks until he worked up the courage to introduce himself.
At that time, American servicemen were discouraged from marrying Japanese women. The Navy gave my father new orders, and when he left Japan my mother was heartbroken, believing he would never return.
It took Dad two years to convince the Navy to station him in Japan again. When he returned, he boarded a train in Tokyo and traveled to my mother's rural farming village, in the far northern part of the country. When she saw him at the doorstep, she ran to him, and they fell into each other's arms, weeping.
But my father realized my mother was very, very thin. She told him she was dying, diagnosed with a terminal case of tuberculosis. My father married her even so. He insisted that she see an American doctor, who said her only chance of survival was an extremely risky surgery. My father and my mother had to say goodbye a second time, this time before she headed to the operating room.
The doctors took out 90 percent of one of her lungs, but she survived. Dad rented a house and took care of Mom as she convalesced, getting up early to bathe and feed her before leaving her with her mother when he went to work.
After six months, she rose from her bed, plump and healthy, and eventually they had five kids—of whom I am the eldest. They were together for more than 50 years, until my mother died in 2001.
I think we all have stories like this in our families; I just happen to know mine. Throughout human history, our ancestors have had to overcome wars, disasters, and political upheavals to love and help one another; otherwise, we wouldn't be here.
As a journalist, I have learned so many stories about our capacity for greatness. Over and over again, even in the worst of times, I have discovered stories about humans who rise to help others, even at risk to themselves. These stories of courage, resilience, empathy, and kindness say something about how much we mean to one another. I have met people who are moved to reunite with people they barely even know.
It's good for us to remember what we are made of, how much we yearn to connect, to love and be loved. This is the story of all of us.
Watch Ann explore this topic further in the first part of her six-part PBS series on January 23 at 8/7c.