Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coincidence?

We had been looking forward to a long weekend visit with our daughter and her family in Ohio. The time finally came when I had a Monday and Tuesday off and we headed out Friday afternoon to catch a plane in Little Rock. On the way to the airport, I started having ankle problems that felt very much like the beginnings of a gout attack. I thought I was through with all that, having modified my eating habits (mostly) to conform to a goutless lifestyle. But anyway, after I started pulling the rolling suitcase from parking to check-in at the airport, I realized, yep, this is gout coming on at just the wrong time.

I limped through the change of planes in Memphis and really slowed my wife down on the way to baggage claim in Columbus. The only thing more intense than my pain was the joy at seeing our expectant daughter accompanied by her two little daughters. After the celebrative greeting—the kids remembered us—we settled into the car and I tried to steer the conversation away from my doddering condition.

When we got to our daughter’s home, I called the VA in Mena and they collaborated on my problem and called me back to say they had a steroid pack and some pain medication ordered for me that I could acquire upon our return, which we did, but we couldn’t pick it up until Tuesday morning. So, when we got off the plane in Little Rock Monday afternoon, we located an airport wheelchair and my wife pushed me outside—it was a beautiful Arkansas day—near the exit from the baggage carousel. The crew could not get the baggage compartment open on the plane we arrived in; it took two hours to do so, so I started a fascinating conversation with a man sitting on a bench nearby who told me of an amazing coincidence:

He said he was O’Dell Smith from Marianna, Arkansas and that once, when down on his luck, he was sitting on a curb in an Indiana town when a homeless man with a bottle of wine in a paper sack sat down beside him. They struck up a conversation and the homeless man said, “Where are you from?” O’Dell said he replied, “Marianna, Arkansas.” Then the man wanted to know his name, “O’Dell Smith,” came the reply.

Then the homeless man pulled out his own ID and it read, “O’Dell Smith Jones,” listing a Marianna, Arkansas address. The homeless man said, “I was a friend of your daddy and he named you after me. Your uncle lives in this town. He’s been looking after me and I can show you where he lives.” So O’Dell Smith unexpectedly met the man he was named for and an uncle he had not seen since childhood, who put him back on his feet and directed him toward success, of which since he had obviously had a considerable amount.

I love coincidences. Although I lean toward the thought that there are no coincidences. The airport finally got the baggage door opened and I got my medicine in Mena Tuesday and I feel much less gouty and somewhat encouraged by O’Dell’s story as well as our newfound friendship.

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