What Are The Chances?
March 15, 2022
I admit that I spent this morning searching for the right word to describe the following: when you end up at the exact same place and time as someone who you would not expect to see in that place or time.
The first word which came to mind was Serendipity. Dictionary.com provides the following meaning: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
So that is not the word which exactly fits the scenario. Then I started putting in all sorts of words to try and figure out exactly what I was trying to describe. Which led me down the rabbit hole.
People have, seemingly forever, been unable to accurately describe such circumstances. So here’s what happened to pique my interest.
A week ago Friday, March 4, the hubby and I had been in Spokane for a meeting the night before. That morning, before heading west, we decided to go to Manito Park to look for what’s known as a ‘Geocache’ (note to my readers, more on that is scheduled for May 3. Update: https://barbaradevore.com/2022/05/03/geocaching/).
So off we went to the park. At the first stop I noticed a pond and that it still had a partial layer of ice. Which triggered for me a memory of my Dad sharing stories of his childhood and how he would, in the winter, go ice skating at Manito Park.
For those who know me well, you also know that I’m always interested in genealogy: Mine, yours, does not matter. I love talking about genealogy. Several years ago I took a paid subscription to Ancestry.com.
Of course I knew my dad had grown up in Spokane. I just had never realized how close to Manito Park. And I knew exactly how to find the address of his house: the 1930 census. Which could be found on Ancestry.
Two minutes later, I had the address which – it turned out – was less than a half mile from the park and the pond.
So I say to the hubby that I want to go see the house. He agrees that we can – just as soon as we find his list of geocaches. So off we wander in the park, finding (or in one case, not finding) a few caches. Finally, at about 11:45, I put the address into my map application and we head east to find the house.
How pleased I was when we turned the corner and there, on South Sherman Street, was what I presumed was the house where my Dad, his brother, sister, and parents all lived in 1930.
I got out of the car and just as I was about to cross the street – which for the record was a side street where little traffic would ever travel – a car turns south from the corner of 17th and starts to drive by. I happened to look at the driver, who is staring gaped mouth at me. He then stops the car, backs it up, and is now staring gaped mouth at the hubby. I might add the hubby is staring back in a similar manner.
By this point, it’s obvious that the driver and the hubby know each other. A window is rolled down by the yet unknown to me driver, and the hubby steps from the car.
“What are you doing here?” The man exclaims.
“We were in Spokane for a meeting last night,” the hubby answers.
“Yes, but what are you doing HERE?” the man asks once again, then adds, “That’s my house.” And he points to the house next door to the one where my DeVore family lived.
“That’s house where my dad grew up!” I exclaim.
By this time, the hubby is introducing me to his friend, Roger, who he has done extensive volunteer work for a number of years with in the Washington Masonic and Scottish Rite organizations.
Roger, it turns out, was coming home that day as he had a Zoom meeting at noon. Five minutes earlier or later the chance meeting would not have happened. We are invited to visit Roger’s greenhouse and I’m given a gorgeous purple orchid. One of Roger’s hobbies is raising them. He gives us the name of the neighbor – who he has lived next to for 17 years – and encourages us to ring the bell and introduce ourselves.
Which we do. She is happy to oblige and we snap a few photos and discuss the house and my genealogy before heading on our way.
So, what are the chances that we would be on that street at exactly the same moment when he happened to be driving past to his house?
Certainly it was a coincidence. Even a bit of serendipitous luck. Perhaps the best word to describe it was coined as Syncronocity.
Of course we know that the Infallible Wikipedia has something to say: Synchronicity is a concept first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl G. Jung “to describe circumstances that appear meaningfully related yet lack a causal connection.” In contemporary research, synchronicity experiences refer to a person’s subjective experience that coincidences between events in their mind and the outside world may be causally unrelated to each other yet have some other unknown connection.”
For me it was yet another odd occurrence in a string of odd occurrences related to my late Father. Like the incident with the 1965 Ford Mustang which I wrote about a year ago: (https://barbaradevore.com/2021/03/09/eee-161-rides-again/)
There have been others which I will eventually share here. For now, however, suffice it to say that it’s somehow oddly comforting to get these reminders of Dad, his larger than life personality still reverberating through my life. Coincidence? Serendipity? Synchronicity? Or, perhaps, a different term waiting to be coined.