Serendipity: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for…
I love when serendipity happens.
Last week there was a luncheon in Tacoma to honor folks who have been members of the Mountaineers for more than 25 years. Dad has been a member of the Mountaineers for more than 70 years and we thought it would be cool if he could attend this event. But Tacoma is two hours to the south of us and Dad no longer drives – so Scott took the day off, and he and I escorted Dad to the luncheon.
Mom wanted to come, too, but decided it would be too difficult to make the journey right now. I was concerned about leaving her alone, but she assured me she’d be fine – she had plans to go for a walk with one of her friends and then she planned on spending a quiet day with the cats.
Mom got Dad all polished and ready to go and the two of them were waiting for us outside their retirement home when we arrived. We loaded Dad and his walker into the car and off we went on our grand adventure, waving good bye to Mom as she stood on the sidewalk, blowing us kisses.
A film-maker named Nils contacted me a couple weeks ago to tell me he was making a documentary on Mount Rainier, and wondering if he could somehow include a clip of Dad in the documentary. I suggested to him that he meet us at the Mountaineer clubhouse before the luncheon, and get a clip of Dad then, and he thought this was a fine idea. When we arrived at the clubhouse Nils was there with his cameraman, Eric, and they’d already talked to the other Mountaineers members and had invited them to be included in the clip with Dad. It was great! There was Dad – front and center – surrounded by friends he’s known for decades, hugging and shaking hands and re-connecting. And yodeling. All captured on camera for future generations.
When we got into the clubhouse I turned around and there was our friend, Perky – a woman we’d climbed Rainier with 40 years ago – standing in front of me with a big grin on her face. Perky had wanted to come to Dad’s 98th birthday party the Saturday before, but hadn’t been able to make it. But today – in a city two hours to the south of where the party had been – Perky happened to glance over at the Mountaineers clubhouse while she was driving through town, and saw me standing on the sidewalk! Perky said she’d been planning to leave earlier for her drive, but something had delayed her – and now she realized she’d been MEANT to leave her home and pass in front of the Mountaineers clubhouse at the exact moment she did.
I love when serendipity happens.
It was nice meeting Dad’s old chums. There was Helen – who’d been a member of the Mountaineers for 60-some years. Helen asked about Mom and told me to give Mom her love. There was Geoff, the president of the Mountaineers – who told me to give Mom a hug and said Mom is one of the sweetest, most even-tempered people he’s ever met. There was Mary – who gave Dad a big hug, and told me she loves Mom and wants to come up and visit her soon.
By this time I’d come to realize Mom is as much a part of the Mountaineers as Dad is – and that her presence is hugely missed when she’s not there.
Sitting at our table was another gentleman who looked like he might be about Dad’s age. Dad and he got into conversation about their birth years. “I was born in September, 1918,” Worth Gurley told Pop. Pop’s eyes crinkled up in delight at finding another chap of the same vintage – and he told Worth he was born in 1918, too! Dad told Worth that he’d been born in Los Angeles, and Worth, as it turns out, had also been born in Los Angeles! Soon the two were involved in lively conversation with each other, proving that it is never too late to make a new friend.
I looked around and found the woman who had brought Worth to the luncheon. I asked if she was Worth’s daughter, and she affirmed she was. Heather and I both turned to watch our dads conversing with each other – their hands cupping their ears to hear each other better – and smiled at the enjoyment we could see on their faces. Heather and I exchanged some of the details of our lives. It turns out she lives in Bellingham – only 20 minutes to the north of where I live! (Have I mentioned that I love when serendipity happens?) She said she has routinely been making the trek to Tacoma to help her father – just as I did until my parents moved up near me a couple months ago. Heather and I exchanged email addresses, with hopes that we’ll be able to get together for a walk on the Bellingham boardwalk with our dads someday soon.
We all had a wonderful time at the luncheon.
When we got back to Mom and Dad’s retirement place I let Mom know about all the well wishes and hugs that had been sent her way, and she smiled up at me and nodded her head. I asked her how her day had been. She said she’d been feeling lonely for Dad, but then she turned on the television and there was a movie with one of their favorite actors – Nelson Eddy! (I love when serendipity happens.) That movie cheered her all up. “Nelson Eddy was fighting for workers’ rights in this movie – he put out a newspaper called The Wasp which showed all the corruption that was going on – and they (the bad guys) were trying to find out who was putting out this paper!” she said, all excited. “And he sang! He has such a beautiful voice!”
I asked if the good guys had won in this movie, and she said, “Of course!”
And that’s the thing, you know: We would appear to be living, right now, in troubling times – there’s corruption in politics and business; there are threats to our safety and well-being; there seem to be a lot of “bad guys” out to get us. But there is nothing we aren’t experiencing right now that my parents haven’t already experienced before in some form – they’ve seen it all. They’ve also lived long enough and seen enough to know that there’s always hope. They’ve lived long enough to see good win, in the end. They’ve lived long enough to experience a lot of serendipity in their lives.
Through many years my parents have developed the “faculty of finding… valuable or agreeable things not sought for.” Perhaps that is why they have lived such long and full lives. They are open to whatever good comes their way, and they recognize it when they see it. They appreciate all the simple, beautiful, joyous moments that have filled their lives, and know how to be grateful for them.
When you look at Life in that way – expecting to find “valuable or agreeable things” every moment – every day is a treasure-packed adventure, isn’t it?
Dee Molenaar and his friends from the Tacoma Mountaineers.
Helen and Dad
Dad and Perky