The other day a friend shared a remarkable coincidence. It seems that a friend of hers had sold a condo in California. The buyer, it turned out, was a half-brother of the seller, who never knew this sibling existed.
How is it possible that a person moves some 2,500 miles and sells property to an unknown relative?
I could have told her about my Aunt Marion who shared my joy of family history. About ten years ago, we were working on our Lane ancestors of Colonial Maryland when Marion decided to take a trip to Los Angeles to visit her daughter.
While she was away, I went on-line and found a man named Fred—a distant cousin actually–who had done extensive research on our Lanes. I emailed him, and he assured me he would be back in touch when he returned from Australia where he was visiting his daughter.
When Marion returned home, she phoned to tell me, “I met this nice man on my flight from LA,” she said. “He sat next to me, but I didn’t talk to him until we got off the plane and he realized that I needed a wheelchair.” As he pushed Marion down the concourse, they struck up a conversation.
“The man asked me if I was from Maryland and I said, not originally but my colonial ancestors were,” she said.
It turned out that he was the same Fred I’d “met” online a week earlier.
What are the odds? Quite remote, I would think, except these things seem to happen when they involve family ties.
Several years ago, I met a lady poet at Sewanee Writers Conference in Tennessee. I told her I remembered her giving a poetry reading at the Bread Loaf conference in Vermont five years earlier.
She was startled. How could I remember her poem so distinctly?
“Because it was about Dale Earnhardt, and folks where I come from take Earnhardt very seriously,” I said.
“Not so much in Maryland,” she said.
I asked her where she lived in Maryland.
“Oh you’ve never heard of it. A small place near Baltimore.”
“Try me,” I said.
“OK. I’m from Bel Air—Kingsville actually. My husband is an Episcopal priest there.”
“Is the church small and on a corner with steep banks, on a busy intersection, and an old graveyard around it? I think there’s a flashing light at the corner.”
“Yes, that’s right,” she said.
“Does your husband wear a beard and wire-rimmed glasses?”
Her eyes bugged out. “Why yes he does!”
“I’ve met him,” I told her.
Her husband had actually shown me and a friend around the graveyard the previous summer. The Kingsville church built in 1817 had replaced an earlier one that my Lane Family had worshipped in during the 1740s.
The poet didn’t talk to me much after that. She said she didn’t do much family research, but I think the truth was she thought I was witchy.