Monday, August 16, 2010

Coincidences, I've had a few.

I've always felt that what we often call a "coincidence" is more than that, some sort of cosmic signal from the universe that....

Well, what is being signaled is what I can't figure out.

This Saturday past was a perfect example, with not one, but two, seemingly coincidental moments.

I was in my old home town, Kennett Square, to meet with relatives--quite old relatives--as part of an effort to trace my Irish grandfather, my father's father, back beyond these shores....wait, scratch that. It is likely going to be impossible to trace the old guy any further than I already have (although a DNA test I just took might help change that); what I was really getting was some understanding of his life while he was here.

But all that is a story for another day. This is about, first, what happened while I was interviewing a 95-year old man (in amazing control of his senses and perfectly aware of the world around him--at one point, he regaled us with his opinions of the TV sitcom, Two and and Half Men),and a chance remark of his led me to tell a story.

I told about a man who had come up to me after I had done a beer dinner at The Whip Tavern, an English-style pub which is near Kennett Square and popular with the horsey crowd out that way, a funny story about his plans to buy the million dollar estate across from his own million dollar estate and tear it down to create his own polo field. No sooner had I finished that the old man's son, a guy in his Sixties, I'd guess. piped up "I know that guy" and then told us his current status, under investigation for running a Ponzi scheme on a lot of the horse set and ruining a couple of lives. Pretty astonishing, I thought, that I'd tell this anecdote I've pulled out to amuse people for years and somebody in the room to whom I am distantly related would know who I was talking about.

Strange enough, but the next "coincidence" was truly weird. I was accompanied on my venture by my cousin, two years older than am I, and we had lunch with one of her high school classmates, same age as she. As we were talking, the friend, now a widow, mentioned her late husband and said I probably wouldn't remember him. I said I recalled his name. She replied that "most people know him as the guy who killed a guy in a baseball game in high school." I damned near dropped my fork and my pint glass (well, at least the former). I had, not three days before, been involved in a conversation wherein, for reasons I cannot recall, I was moved to mention that "I knew a guy in high school who was pitching and killed a batter on the other team with a fastball that hit him in the temple." That might have been only time in decades I ever even thought about that incident and now here I was having lunch with his widow.

To me at least, strange, strange occurrences. Whatever message there might be, as I said, is lost on me.

One more thing: later that day, I was in the living room of an 82-year old cousin and her 85 year-old brother and Cousin Lois and her friend. For one of the few times in recent years, I was actually the Youngest Person in the Room.

And, let me tell you, seeing all those members of my family line rolling along just fine in their eighth and ninth decades was pretty damned encouraging.

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