The Gift of Chance Encounters
The reminder notices kept arriving in the mail; time for my annual visit to the eye doctor. Finally, I called and scheduled the appointment. The results of the routine exam were fine, though I needed a new pair of glasses. From the office’s selection, I perched a frame on my face and considered myself in the small mirror. Suddenly, a woman came up to me. “No, no, no, those are not right for you,” she said in a strong accent I couldn’t quite place. “You need glasses that match your hair! People who don’t match their glasses to their hair look awful. If you don’t match your hair, then you can’t match your clothes.” We chatted and laughed as she followed me around the small reception area. As I finally settled on a pair that matched my hair, as she’d advised, she asked, “Do you know how old I am?” “No, I replied.” “I am 89,” she said with a broad smile. What a delight she was!
My next stop was at a fabric store to purchase some material for a fleece blanket I planned to make for my grandson. As I waited in the checkout line, the customer in front of me commented that it looked like I was going to be busy. I explained I had previously made a fleece blanket for my daughter in Colorado, and my grandson had asked me to make him one too. “Oh, you have a child in Colorado? Me too! My son is there,” she said. Soon after, we were called forward to the registers. I looked back to say goodbye, but my new acquaintance was busy and didn’t notice.
Nearly finished with my errands, I stepped into one last store to look for a Christmas gift. As I wandered the aisles, I saw the same woman again. Approaching her, she began to laugh as she saw me. I said I didn’t feel like we had finished our conversation. She agreed. We chatted for a few more minutes and commiserated about adult children living so far away, before hugging and wishing each other a happy holiday season.
Finally, at the end of the day, I picked up a friend and we drove to a local park where a rare Peruvian hawk had been spotted. Wildlife photographers from all over the country had been travelling to Southern Maine to capture its image, and I was eager to get some photos of my own. By the time we arrived at the park, a small group of photographers had gathered. The afternoon was cold, the wind biting and, much to my dismay, there had not been a sighting of the hawk that day. Our fingers freezing, my friend and I decided to escape the frigid cold and head back to the warmth of the car. As we prepared to leave, a couple passed us. The man looked remarkably like Bono of U2, which my friend and I remarked upon. The Bono lookalike winked and told us he was travelling incognito before asking the important question: Had we seen the hawk? Though we hadn’t, it turned out that he had seen the bird just a few days prior, purely by chance. We had a wonderful exchange, some laughter about “birding,” and wished each other success for a future sighting.
At the end of the day, these small, chance encounters with strangers filled me with gratitude. I may not have seen the rare hawk, but my eyes were open to the possibility of connecting with others. What a gift! Are your eyes wide open this holiday season?