Sunday, August 20, 2006

Coincidence? I Think Not!

During the four years my mother spent in a nursing home my sister and I were not her only visitors. There was a core of lovely ladies who regularly came to spend a few minutes or they sent her cards and letters. They are all so very special to my sister and I…. now that Mom is gone.

One very nice lady in particular was from my Mom’s hometown and they had gone to school together. Later on in life they both found themselves living in the suburbs of Atlanta, but rarely communicated. Later, after my parents divorce they both discovered they lived in the same small town south of Atlanta. They spoke often on the phone and visited some.

After she went into the nursing home Mom’s friend, Nina, would pop in early on Saturday or Sunday mornings and attempt to cajole Mom into eating something. Sometimes I would come in and catch Nina standing by Mom’s bed holding her hand, or attempting to cheer her up in some way. In fact, she was Mother’s first visitor in the nursing home and was one of the last friends to see Mother alive. She was a dear, dear friend to be so loyal and to come by as often as she did. Like me, she often left Mom’s room in tears remembering the vibrant lady my mother once was.

Nina was unable to make it to the funeral home after Mom passed. Many of Mom’s highschool friends deluged my sister and I with Nina’s apologies. Her house had just sold and the closing simply couldn’t be rearranged. She was afraid the other party would back out. My sister and I understood. A few days after the funeral she called to apologize directly to me and I told her she had already done above and beyond what she was supposed to. She had helped Mother while she was alive and that meant so much to Sister Dear and I.

Nina and I continued to talk for a bit. She was concerned about finding a new house. She and her husband had little time before the new owner took possession, and they weren’t looking forward to the move. We spoke of the funeral and how all three of Mother’s grandchildren had taken part in the service. I spoke of my in-laws telling Nina they were in Tennessee when Mother left us and for many different reasons they couldn’t get home for the service. As I told Nina how wonderful my in-laws are she suddenly made a connection between my last name and the name I was calling my father-in-law by. She said, “Is your father-in-law ……?” I told her yes, and she explained that she had worked with my husband’s father for several years before she retired.

We both decided it was indeed a small world, but is it?

The past is chock-full of different types of coincidences.

During the production of The Wizard of Oz the costume department purchased many of the articles of clothing used in the movie from second-hand stores. At some point it was discovered that the jacket purchased for Professor Marvel had indeed belonged to L. Frank Baum, the author of the book the movie is based on.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The 1519 arrival in Mexico of Hernan Cortes precisely matched a prediction by the Mayan Calendar that a pale-faced god named Quetzalcoatl would return and claim Tenochtitlan.

Two different Umbertos were shot dead in Italy on July 29, 1900. The first Umberto was Umberto I, the King of Italy. The second was a restaurant owner in the city of Monza. That is coincidence enough, however, both men favored each other in looks and both had wives with the same first name. The King’s coronation and the opening of the restaurant occurred on the same day. And……I certainly don’t want to leave out the fact that King Umberto had dinner in the other Umberto’s restaurant the night before the King was assassinated. The real kicker? The restaurant owning Umberto was also shot dead on the same day.

Harriet Tubman, the mother of the fight against slavery died in 1913. That same year the lady who would become a symbol of the struggle for civil rights was born. Her name? Rosa Parks.

Sometimes in history we find unexplained repetition regarding numbers. Benjamin Franklin was born on the 17th, including Franklin his parents had 17 children, Franklin ran away on the 17th, and he died on the 17th.

Even nature has coincidences. As we gaze upward at night we always see the same image of the moon. Actually, the moon rotates and revolves around the Earth. Amazingly it does both at the same speed. The same side of the moon is always in synch with the Earth. A random occurrence? Hmmmm…..

Search the web and you can find all sorts of coincidences. Some revolve around the year 1066 and the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944. There are coincidences involving 9/11 as well as the over-referred to coincidences between the assassination of JFK and Abraham Lincoln. There are even several coincidences involving NASA.

There are many theories to explain strange relationships and occurrences throughout history. Some theories take on wild explanations involving conspiracies. Littlewood’s Law explains coincidence by stating that if the sample size is large enough anything can happen and on the average one can expect a miracle at least once a month. If that’s true then Littlewood owes me a few.

One particular theory is Synchronicity propsed primarily by Carl Jung. Wikipedia states this theory involves “temporally coincident occurrences of acasual events.” Huh? What that means is the human mind finds meaning and significance where there is none. These coincidences occur because of a strong need in the individual to make connections.

Many people have read Jung’s book titled Synchronicity. On the cover of their 1983 album, Synchronicity, The Police refer to Jung’s book. I still have the album which shows Sting reading a copy of Jung’s book and different images of actual text from the book appear on the front as well as the back cover.

Another theorist, Arthur Koestler, “attempts to link Quantum Mechanics with neutrinos and their interactions with time” per Wikipedia. Again, my reaction is…..Huh? Apparently a character in the movie V For Vendetta is seen reading Koestler’s book, The Roots of Coincidence. Another book by Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine, uses a phrase by British philosopher Gilbert Ryles as the title. Koestler felt “as the human brain has grown, it has built upon earlier more primitive brain structures and that these are ghosts….” So coincidences are actually imprints from an earlier time or memory? I guess that would explain why another album by The Police is named Ghost in the Machine, huh?

Albert Einstein, a very learned man well versed in Physics is quoted as saying, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” I agree with my friend Albert. As a Christian I cannot believe something happens simply because of randomness. I also have a hard time believing that all coincidences occur simply because I create meaning for them, or that they occur because man has a collective conscience, an imprint from earlier times a la Koestler? Nope, I don’t buy it.

When the movie Magnolia was finally was released to pay-per-view I watched portions of it. I didn’t really like it. The characters had too many problems, and I found it very depressing. However, one line in the movie touched me. One of the characters stated, “We may be through with history, but the past ain’t through with us.”

Periodically in your life there are people or people those people know that reappear every so often in your life to impact it in some way. Sometimes you realize it. Sometimes you have no idea. These random acts are not random at all. A higher power is at work in my view.

It would make sense of course that from this point on my sister and I might hear from Mom’s friend Nina through a Christmas card or occaisional note. However, a higher power had a different plan.

Today, nearly a month after my conversation with Nina Sister Dear called. She said, “I have to tell you something because only you would think this is strange.”

“Okay, hit me with your best shot,” I said.

Sister Dear proceeded to tell me about a house in a town outside of Atlanta that her husband kept driving by. The house had a ‘for sale by owner’ sign in the yard. This is not the town where my sister lives. In fact, it is several miles away from their home, but my brother-in-law is there periodically because he has family there. He finally stopped at this house and gave the elderly owners his business card and told them when they were ready for a real estate agent he was their man. He checked back with them a couple of times and finally they gave him the listing.

This morning my full time brother-in-law, part-time real estate agent showed this particular house to another “retired” couple. They loved the house and decided to buy it. It seems they had already sold their house and were getting anxious to find a home they liked. Brother-in-law not only will act as the seller’s agent but will also be the buyer’s agent as well. A double whammy as it were!

Guess who the buyers are? You guessed it…Mother’s dear friend, Nina and her husband. During their discussion Brother-in-law’s last name made a connection in Nina’s brain and she asked if he was married to my sister. He confirmed it and everyone was simply shocked.

Well, there was only one thing I could say to Sister Dear. “It was Mother, Sister Dear,” I said. “She had a hand in this. She must have put a bug in the Big Guy’s ear.”

Sister Dear said, “You know, I thought the same thing.”

As I hung up the phone I softy said to the air around me, “Thank you, Mother. I love you!"


HappyChyck said...

Wow! I love this coincidence and "small world" stuff. So many times in my life I have made connections to people, but most the time I have not been able to understand the "why" of those connections. It is fun to ponder them, though.

Anonymous said...

divine intervention

Butterfly Angel said...

God takes care of us all! Did you know that Wm. Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes died on April 23, 1616? I love to read them both.

Take care,
butterfly angel

Dan Edwards said...
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