Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian selected her photo to represent all teens from a specific decade.
Coincidence? Maybe that’s a ‘connection’ of sorts I can’t easily see. I grew up turning a dial on a radio, waited for the fat tubes to heat up, and then magically a broadcast came on. My mind saw whatever it wanted for background, actors, singers, sounds of rain or even hoofbeats. When my parents took me to sit in a studio and watch a broadcast being done live, it was quite awful; the ethereal quality of rain was nothing more than a person shaking a piece of tin, and the hoofbeats that I’d romanticized coming from an Arabian horse galloping with its mane blowing were cup-like things hitting a slab of wood. After that, as sounds streamed through slots in the radio’s box, the romantic visual left with my childhood.
I also disliked the growing-up phrase that things happen for a reason. The vague wording seemed more like an attempt to justify misfortune that there’s no control over. When breath abruptly left my 45 year old father, what possibly was the reason? No sermons or philosophy courses could connect the dots for me regarding such.
Aging altered some views and, yet, rationalization seemed to linger. Driving to a famous golf course in Virginia, my husband’s pinkie-finger was broken. A friend, also a golfer, should have understood our 10 hour each-way drive was to actually just play a specific Nature-beautiful course, and understand our emotional pain with him no longer being able to do that, but, rather, he offered his Eastern religious philosophy: our driving was delayed to attend to the finger, and it was predetermined that we should pause because an accident might have been ahead and we were spared. Was that just ‘comfort talk’, or might that belief be possible?
Last summer, on a trip from our home near Canada’s border, to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, had me thinking of that Eastern belief. My younger son, his wife, and their two daughters, who live near our house, took their van; my husband and I were driven in our sedan, for our personal comfort, by their son. Several days later, we all began our ride home. We three in the sedan left about twenty minutes ahead of the van, and the GPS was effective going so we trusted it with the return. Paper maps, and AAA Triptiks were things of the past. The present, with a computer voice, said ‘right turn ahead’; the path divisions had a right lane but also a road veering to the right at the same spot. We took the road. About a quarter mile up, re-calculations began, and the directions altered. Re-routing done by the system always found the route to our destination, so, of course, we followed the changes.
The mountains were steep, and the stretch was narrow as if only horse-drawn carriages should occupy its width, although old-radio’s hoofbeats would sound wrong on pavement, yet it was open for two lane travel. Constant curves made visibility difficult. Our grandson kept a 30 mph speed. Higher we climbed; our ears felt as if we were in an aircraft. Eventually, we began to descend, drove over a one-lane bridge appreciative that the traffic in the other direction was sparse, and assumed we would be miles and miles closer to home and pick up a main road many towns nearer to our final mileage. Not so. We’d gone in a complete circle! Ending up at exactly where the ‘right turn’ took us on a right turn and not merely the right lane, we saw the car in front of us: it was the van my son was driving with the rest of his family!
Grandson apologized for the situation, which did not require any apology as the GPS misled us and then its usual re-calculations couldn’t do more than take us twenty minutes out of our way in order to be at the exact point of error. I felt, suddenly, that, maybe, it was ‘meant to be’ so we could ride in tandem with the family, somehow watch out for one another for the long trip. We all stopped at the same rest stops and also had lunch at the same time, and the thruway sign indicating the final exit was seen within minutes of one another. The ‘error’ was responsible.
Was that coincidence? Was the GPS misleading us for a reason? Could my generally rational mind accept such a concept? I touched the travel-amulet around my neck, a 14k gold locket given to me by my parents when I turned age 18 and contains photos of them at that point in time, and whispered “thanks”. Since radio waves are invisible, but they exist, maybe the GPS was ‘taken over’ by what I can’t see?
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