Enjoying moments of serendipity here in La Grange
Updated: January 21, 2013 1:56AM
LA GRANGE — Serendipity.
As a writer, I am quite fond of that word. It looks lovely in print, it sounds lovely when it rolls off your tongue, and the term itself connotes a kind of fate and connectedness that bind us all together.
As a person, I love the idea of serendipity and I’ve seen it in action, when you are at the right place at the right time with the right people.
It was at a lunch counter right here in La Grange when I recently saw a truly serendipitous moment unfold right before me.
My father had come to town to watch my daughter’s soccer game on an early Sunday morning. We often go to one local restaurant for our post-game breakfast, but this time, for no particular reason, I suggested another spot in La Grange.
As I was sitting at a large table with my dad, his girlfriend, my sister and my kids, I noticed he seemed a bit distracted. He kept looking to the side, to the lunch counter where a man was eating his breakfast, reading the paper.
After a while, Dad said, “I think that’s (so-and-so.).”
A couple of years ago, my father heard from a mutual friend that a grade school friend of theirs was living in La Grange. He managed to find his phone number but they only connected via voicemail and hand-written letter.
Not that long ago, at another local restaurant here, my dad thought he recognized his old friend, and walked up to a gentlemen eating alone at a table and asked him his name. It wasn’t him, and I reverted a bit back to my own grade school self, as in, ‘Oh, Dad, why did you DO that? That was kind of EMBARRASSING!”
So this particular morning, I was wondering if my dad would again walk up to someone he thought reminded him of his buddy. Sure enough, he stood up and approached the man.
“I asked him, ‘Is your name John’? And he said yes. Then I asked him his last name, and I told him that I was Tom Rogers, from the neighborhood, and he just kind of melted. He couldn’t believe it,” my dad recalled.
Sure enough, as my sister and I watched, our dad, who turned 80 this summer, took the next several minutes catching up with his grade school friend, who is 82.
They had not seen each other since 1944.
After Dad introduced us and after his long-lost, now-found friend left the cafe, he told us, in between bites of his omelet, stories about the block on which they lived on the South Side of Chicago. How there was a prairie between their houses, and the boys in the neighborhood would dig tunnels there, build fires in underground holes and throw a few potatoes in the flames. “When the potatoes turned black,” Dad explained, “We ate them.”
From a dusty city block in the era of the Great Depression and World War II to a 21st century Sunday morning in La Grange: Serendipity, indeed.