A weird encounter.

Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2012 04:12 pm
This week I went to Florida. My trip was a lot shorter than anticipated and I've been so busy, this being my first convention, I wasn't sure what to expect.
Then convention was an eye opening experience in American politics, even though the industry and a good 30% of the attendees were not from the US, dare I say at least 47% of us... didn't buy into the politics.
I didn't expect the amount of religion or patronism, or quite frankly the racist undertones or the supremacists overtones. That being said, Orlando's lovely. It was the biggest hotel I've ever seen and the duck parade was precious.

K, this is where it gets weird, in a small world kinda way.
On my last night in town, the hotel was a ghost town. I decided to check out a local blues club and try some bbq. Good stuff, but waaaaaay too much. The band was awesome, but since I was alone, I decided to go back to the hotel sooner than later.
Once at the hotel, and being that it was still relatively early, I decided to have a night cap and sit on the balcony, in the gorgeous warm air. It's a waning luxury where I come from.
The bar was pretty empty, and the balcony had a lone occupant.
As I stood pondering where to sit, he said something to me. I didn't catch the first part, but he finished the sentence with eh!
I knew he was a fellow canuck.
He introduced himself, told me where he was from. He's from a small town, just up the road from my city. He graciously bought me a drink and we started to chat. He's older than me, by about 20 years. He had skipped the last day of the convention and gone golfing, so his "Irish skin" was burnt.
I laughed, told him I could commiserate as I suffered from the same affliction.
Once he realized I was Irish too, he told me that his family was from (insert name of town), not northern ireland, not the county or that it was close to Belfast, but the name of a specific small town.
Funny, I said, my mom comes from the same area. Assuming there is only one (insert name of sm. town) in the whole of Ireland.
Then he says, they lived on The Road (a unique name, only heard in a handful of places in the world).
I just about fell off my chair. I knew this house, his name, I've seen that house. Our house, the family homestead is at the end of The Road, their house is the next one over. For centuries his family and mine have been neighbours, catholic and protestant.

My father emigrated from Ireland as well. He's from the south. His first job was for a farmer, as a cowboy, on a ranch, managing huge cattle herds. They'd birth, baptize and brand cows, ride the open range and every so often he would work for other farmers, especially when times got lean. He got to know many of the people in the area and had supper at their tables.
Years later, dad works in town, my mom and dad get married, her mom comes to visit. She wants to see other people from home, one day, granny gives dad directions to a house 'out in the country'.
Turns out.. Dad knew these people, he'd worked for them many times. The woman, the matriarch, the mother was the daughter of the family just down The Road.

The guy I met in Florida, is her nephew. We chewed the fat. He told me about his family, his job. Seems like a fine guy. You know, the kind of guy you'd trust to watch your kids. We talked for an hour or two. We shook hands and off I went.
Tonight, I told my mom the story. She starts to laugh.
Turns out, the reason his father is was in Canada, is that...

He tried to kill my grandfather.
That explains why, when I brought up the google maps and showed him where the two farms where, in proximity, he blanched and got very quiet.
It's a very small world.

Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2012 04:34 pm
Very strange! Great story.
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Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2012 04:41 pm
It is a small, small world, Ceili, and the more I travel, the more I know it.

I used to go to a Greek restaurant in Vancouver when I was a kid. A lot of guys on the Greek boats used to jump ship and work there. We got to know them as we went there once a month. Years later, I was living somewhere else in Vancouver and wanted to try a certain Greek restaurant. Lo and behold, one of the ship jumpers owned it. Skip ahead a couple of years and I go there and tell him I'm going to Athens and does he want anything from 'home'? He said yeah and told me what he wanted. Skip ahead, I'm now in Athens and wandering around. I find a restaurant and in I go. I'm placing my order and a big guy is listening to me. He comes over and asks where I'm from. I tell him and long story short, he knows my Greek restaurant owner. He asks me if I'll deliver a letter to him. Of course. When I get home, I give this guy the letter and the whatnot I bought and he started crying (well, he's Greek, right?). Amazing.

On my honeymoon in England a couple years ago, we stayed at an in near Bath. About 20 of us are outside smoking and this woman asked me where I was from. I tell her Calgary. She says "Oh, I know a woman who lives there - she used to be my best friend. Maybe you know her." All the others start laughing and I say, "Well, you never know, I could know her. What's her name?" She says "Joan C." I said, "Actually, I did meet a Joan C. Does she have a niece called Wendy?" She said, "YES!!" Turns out, Wendy was my son's g/f and her mom was her old best friend. I took a picture of her and emailed it to Wendy to email to her aunt and these two old friends reconnected after many years.

Ya just never know. It happens all the time.
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Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2012 04:44 pm
Well . . . didja shoot the sumbitch?
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Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2012 04:53 pm
I just read your new profile, Ceili.
Outstanding! A complete pleasure to read.
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Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2012 05:26 pm
He tried to kill my grandfather.
That explains why, when I brought up the google maps and showed him where the two farms where, in proximity, he blanched and got very quiet.

You two, smack dab in the middle of gun country, could have each bought a gun and settled things like your gracious hosts mighta done.
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Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2012 08:42 pm
Tried to kill your grandfather, eh. Well, you know what you've got to do.
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Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2012 09:11 pm
I've had a couple of moments like this before, but this one is just so strange. Generations and so many miles between the families and places.
It's so odd, sometimes I think I've grown up in the middle of nowhere, a place most people can't picture never mind visited. And yet, I've bumped into people who know people I know many times.
Chance encounters. Kinda like my own six degrees of Kevin Bacon, which by the way, I'm four times removed.
Mame, your story is beautiful.
When my cousin, a journalist, was here this summer, my dad asked her if she had ever worked with a well known veteran. She had, on assignment, a couple of times. He's my dad's cousin, she's from mom's side.
While my cousin was here she told me a story about my great grandmother. If any of you are keeping tabs, she was the only girl, one of twelve. The brothers all died building the panama canal.
One of her sons went state side and never returned. Every night, before she went to bed, she walked The Road and up the hill, over looking the sea, longing for her son. Years later it was found, the son was buried in a paupers grave in Colorado. He'd died from a nose bleed, it is thought, gained in a fight....
My point is, I think emigrants keep stories alive, haunted by the past. Sometimes paths cross and bring a new beginning or closure to a memory. The law of attraction or repulsion, like magnets that bounce off each other every once in a while and just keep going or recharge.
The man I met had never been to Ireland. His family in Ireland would never call themselves Irish. But he knew the address to that house, he had grown up with stories and a father who could never go home. If his dad had succeeded in killing my granddad, I wouldn't be here. Instead he was exiled and my family is here willingly. Not to say the man I met isn't, he is and he has a nice family. And I'm very happy for him.
It's things like this that make you think.
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