Coincidence is something I have been interested in, curious about for as long as I can remember. When I looked up its definition in several dictionaries, the best one read, “Coincidence is an accidental sequence of events that appear to have a casual relationship.”
The key word that got me to thinking is “accidental,” and how accidental things have affected or changed my own life. Do I even believe in the existence of coincidence as a guiding force? You know what? I guess I do not believe that things just randomly happen to me. I cannot believe that certain humans or non-humans just float in and out of my daily life with no purpose.
Again, the word “accidental” stops me. I decided that I needed to leave the house and talk to other people about this, that, once again, I have jumped into a subject much bigger than I realized when I started. I did this.
On the way to lunch I asked Gene what he believed. He says that in every life, there are many happenings or coincidences and, within these events, are many life opportunities. “It is up to us whether we use these opportunities.”
Then he told me that his greatest opportunity happened in 1981 when my niece and I walked into his Health Food Store on Key Biscayne. I was wanting to buy some good vitamins for myself. I was new on the island, having just moved there from Missouri. We got to talking about stuff and his 6-year-old daughter Rachel rode up on her pink bicycle to announce that she was invited to a friend’s party, but did not know where she lived, and if her daddy would take her there.
When he explained that he could not leave the store, and since I, too, arrived on a bike and had some free time that Saturday afternoon, I offered to ride with her to the party. Of course, I had no clue where the party house was but hey, the island was very small and nothing was far to go so it was no big deal.
To Gene, however, it was a huge deal that I would do such a thing. Off we went. By the time we found the right house, the party was pretty nearly over. However, to Gene, a single dad with three little kids, it was huge. He asked me to dinner. Six months later, we were married. Now, he says that my coming in and Rachel needing help was coincidental, and he saw the opportunity and grabbed for it.
I see his point. However, after we married and I began working in the store, I began to have severe back pain. I made the round of doctors in Florida, but they all said the same thing — I had developed degenerative bone disease in my spine and at the rate it was spreading, I would be dead in six months if I even caught a cold. Then, on a particularly bad day, this lady named Sharon came into the store. She saw the way I was bent over, she saw the pain all over my face and simply said, “You need to go to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.”
I had heard of the Mayo Clinic, but had no idea how to go there. She smiled and handed me a telephone number to call. A few weeks later I boarded a plane by myself, flew to Rochester, Minn., met a man — Dr. Rudolf Klassen — who only operated on severely deformed children. He said, “I don’t know if I can help you but I will try.”
After building my own blood bank. we flew back there to St. Mary’s Hospital where Dr. Klassen performed two 12-hour surgeries 10 days apart, rebuilding my entire spine with my own ribs. Three months later, we returned to Key Biscayne, I in a full body cast but with my life back. If you have been following this story, you can see why I believe that there was nothing about it called coincidence. Getting one’s life back could never be coincidence.
And then there’s our unlikely move to Colorado almost two years ago. Our beautiful home and farm, all our friends, my writing career – because of Gene’s cancer and then his fall on the ice, all made us simply walk out the back door up on the hill on Flanagan Station Road one cold May morning with two shelter cats who refused to be sedated, get on a plane, and enter a new life in a condo we’d never even seen.
Our four adult kids — Clarke, Becca, Phoebe and Steve — transformed into angels to make all this possible. I absolutely believe the entire, impossible move had to be orchestrated in their lives as well as ours. There is no way it could all have fallen into place by chance or by coincidence. Let me tell you that every day we live here, I see new evidence of exactly why we are here. It is all a God-thing and I know it.
As the day progressed and I talked to different people, I got about equal responses about believing in coincidence versus a deeper belief that God has His hand in the mix called life. Maybe if I could take out that word “accidental,” I could see both sides. However, as things stand now, I feel more comfortable knowing that God put me here for a reason so He must be in charge. I am counting on it.
The view from the mountains is wondrous.