The Past in the Present

April 2006



Coincidences have been creeping into my life lately. Strangely, each coincidence links to my paternal grandmother, a woman I was too young to know. She died in 1980. Since watching the film, I (Heart) Huckabees, Iím wondering if my coincidences point to the meaning of my life. It all began in the year 2000 when my mother died in Ohio. At her memorial service, a man began talking to me and told me that a relative of mine had lots of family photos for me. I gave him my address and cell phone number and asked that the photos be mailed to me. I heard nothing back and received no photos. Okay, hereís the first coincidence. I was in Ohio visiting my brother (I lived in Minnesota at the time) for one week in August 2004. I received a call on my cell phone from my relative asking me to come pick up the pictures. She lived about 40 miles from where I was standing at that moment. Wow. After four years, the week Iím in Ohio, she calls. It turns out that she is my second cousin once removed. She had two suitcases full of photos. Thatís why they were never mailed. There were piles and piles of photographs of relatives I never knew. Some photographs dated back to the late 1800ís.

Two months later, during an idle moment, I decided I needed a picture of Abraham Lincoln to hang on my wall. I found a nice one on eBay. A week later, it was on my wall.My fascination with Lincoln had begun. One day, while looking in a book at a picture of the interesting fence surrounding Lincolnís home in Springfield, Illinois, those suitcases of photos came to mind. I had seen that fence before. I rifled through the suitcases and found about 40 photos showing my grandmother in Springfield, visiting all the Lincoln sites! My grandmother and I both had a strong Lincoln interest. I felt like I had come full circle. Is there a revealing connection here? You may not be convinced, so hereís one more coincidence.

††††††††† My grandmother must have enjoyed writing as much as I do. In the suitcases, I found several stories that my grandmother wrote during the 1930s. I had been looking for those stories again last month, searching through the ubiquitous boxes filling my home since my recent move to Wisconsin.The other night, I finally found them. Okay, hereís the second coincidence. Along with the stories was a printout of a family tree. On it, I noticed that my grandmotherís birthday was March 7óthe same day I located the stories. She would have been 92.†††