In the blog I wrote following my emergency hospital visit, I talked about an unhappy coincidence: ending up in the same room where my dad was taken when he was first diagnosed with what would eventually take his life. It was a chilling incident. This week, mom and I experienced a more positive kind of “it’s a small world” situation.
We were attending the first book event of this year: an arts and crafts fair at Ft. Belvoir. After the terrible beginning to 2015, it felt great just to be out, talking to people about how much we love writing books. I kept glancing at the woman whose booth was catty corner to ours. She was friendly and had smiled our way several times as she painstakingly dragged out pillows and stuffed animals and other goods she’d handcrafted. I almost offered to help her because I felt so sorry for how hard she was working to set up her extensive collection. She also seemed so familiar to me that I could visualize what her voice sounded like. When we did finally stop in our preparations for the fair and approached each other, she sounded just like I’d imagined. Within minutes of exchanging pleasantries, I found out that she does extensive volunteer work, including taking her dog around to medical facilities. Then I knew.
“Where do you visit?” I asked too loudly.
Her eyes widened slightly, but she rattled off a few places. They included the rest home where Dad spent just a little over a week before passing.
“I knew it. I knew it. I met you.”
Then she remembered as well. In fact, she remembered what room we were in when she and two other volunteers brought their dogs through and stopped to cheer mom and I, and my two sisters up. We had gathered to talk to the administrator who had gone to bat to get dad admitted and were awaiting an appointment to finalize details.
We were very much in need of some cheer and the dogs and the friendly ladies showing them provided a moment of respite from sorrow.
In a metropolitan area like ours, that kind of coincidence is pretty shocking. The rest home was 30 miles away from where we live, which is another 15 miles away from where the arts and crafts fair was held. And there are millions of people in all those miles. Yet here was a woman I’d met by chance and even shared a hug at the door as we said our goodbyes at the rest home. She’d promised to pray for our family that dad would be admitted. I guess it worked.
When I told my little sister and fellow author Allyn Stotz this story, she was amazed, but wasn’t surprised. Allyn is also from a large metropolitan area—Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She’d been to her first book event several weeks before. She was talking to a woman who loved Allyn’s current books and mentioned that her neighbor, an illustrator, had just had her first picture book published. When the woman shared what that book was about, the two discovered the illustrator was the very same woman who is helping Allyn with her next book!
It truly is a small world … or at least it feels that way sometimes. It makes you wonder how many times you bump into someone whose path may have crossed yours at some point without either of you knowing it!
Genilee Swope Parente