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Coincidences Happen

Have you ever had a string of incidents occur that led to some unlikely conclusion that you didn’t see coming? These occurrences are called coincidences and I’m always amazed when I experience them or hear others tell me about something that happened to them.

For example, this happened to me and my family about a year after my mother passed away on July 22, 1999. My mother was a strong figure in the lives of me, my two brothers and my sister. So was our dad, but our Mom was the comedian, the consoler, the never-tiring worker.

So in early July 2000 I suddenly, out of nowhere one day, got the strong urge to call my siblings; I am the youngest. Now understand, though we’re a close family, we don’t call each other every day several times a day like some families. We call … on occasion; it may be once a month; or it could be several months – although since our oldest brother died a couple years ago we tend to talk to each other much more often.

But I digress. So, I get this urge to call my siblings, and I immediately picked up the phone and called my sister, Louise, for no particular reason that I knew of. 

When she answered the phone she said, “I was just picking up the phone to call you and you’ll never guess who I was just on the phone to.”

“Who?” I said.

“Tim!” she exclaimed!

Tim is the next youngest to me, then our sister, then Peter, who is now deceased. Of the lot, Tim is perhaps the least communicative, though he and Peter were a close heat. Our sister tends to be the communication link and I fall somewhere in between them all.

So it was not routine for me to call her, and to have Tim call her at the same time was about the same odds as winning the lottery.

“What did Tim call you about?” I asked.

“Nothing really, he just had the feeling like he should call all of us,” she told me. “He was also planning to call you and Peter.”

Wondering if anybody had heard from Peter I asked, “Did Peter call you?”

About that time I heard a clicking on my phone telling me I had an incoming call.  I tipped the cell phone and, to my eerie surprise, I saw Peter’s name pop up!

“Uh, I’ll call you back in a minute,” I told Louise. “You aren’t going to believe who’s calling me.”

 “So I switched over to the second call and Peter said, “Hey little brother, I just wanted to call and say hi and see how you’re doing.”

Pete was a good big brother growing up; he did all the obligatory things like scaring the bejeebers out of me about every other day; telling me about the monsters under the bed, then hiding under there until I was drifting off to sleep, then reaching out from under the darkness to grab me. Stuff like that, things to make me stronger.

But I could count on one hand the times he’d called me just to say hi and see how I was doing.

So I asked, “What prompted you to call?”

He said, “I don’t know, I just had the urge to call all of you.”

I finished that call and got back on the phone with Louise. “There’s something weird going on here,” I said. “All of us got this urge to call each other just about the same time – odd, isn’t it?”

Then, it struck me like a sledge hammer. “It’s Ma,” I said. Silence on the other end of the phone.  “Did you hear me, it’s Ma reminding us that it will be one year ago that she passed away.” More silence. “Are you there?” I asked.

“Do you really think so,” Louise said, her voice hushed and tentative, sounding like a little girl who has just been told a very believable ghost story on a dark night around a blazing campfire.

“Why not?” I said. “You know she always told us that she’d find a way to contact us after she died. It can’t just be coincidence that we all got the urge at the same time to call each other – just a couple days before one year after her passing? I don’t think so.”

Coincidence – is it just a random series of events that culminate to make strange things happen?

Our daughter hadn’t met some of her distant cousins except on Facebook. A couple years ago, she had the opportunity to go on a cruise on one of those big cruise ships. So she’s meandering around the deck and who should she see? Yep, several of her cousins who had randomly decided to take the same cruise.

Coincidences? I think they occur every day, to everybody, at one time or another. Some coincidences, like those I just described, go unnoticed by most of the world. Others are not so easy to miss.

For example, is it coincidence that Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846 and John F. Kennedy in 1946; Lincoln to President in 1860 and Kennedy in 1960? Or was it coincidence that both presidents' names contain seven letters; or that they were both concerned with civil rights; or that both their wives lost children while in the White House; or that they were both shot on a Friday; or that reportedly Lincoln’s secretary, named Mrs. Kennedy, warned him not to go to the theater and that Kennedy’s secretary, named Mrs. Lincoln, warned him not to go to Dallas? Both were succeeded by Southerners and both successors were named Johnson; Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808, Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908. John Wilkes Booth was born in 1939, Lee Harvey Oswald in 1939 and both went by three names that comprised 15 letters each. Booth ran from a theater and was caught in a warehouse; Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater; both were assassinated before their trials.

Now, a string of coincidences like that has to make even the most hard core pragmatists scratch their heads and say, “hmmm.” Even though these coincidences have been passed along for generations and some may stretch the facts a bit, most are true and historically documented.

So how about it; do Week-Enders believe that these strings of events are predestined to happen, or are they just random actions that bounce around like balls in a pinball machine, landing who-knows-where?

If you’ve had a weird coincident happen to you, share it here for us Week-Enders to read and ponder over the next couple days.                

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Beaufort, S.C.; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email cwo4usmc@comcast.net.

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