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On Wonderful Coincidences

I received an email from a complete stranger last evening that was bittersweet - and underscored how a kindness extended to someone you don't even know can mean so very much.


Yesterday was my dad's birthday; it was the first time he wasn't here to celebrate it. Tough day. Then into my inbox lands a message from a faculty member in the Landscape Architecture Department at Iowa State University, my father's alma mater.  Here's what it said:

Today (1/19/11) I was rifling around in our archives and came across a little folio of your dad's work in his academic file.  It's a sweet little document and I've scanned it and am attaching it for you as a pdf file. I had come across your dad's oral history at the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries a few years back while researching his ISU professor, P.H. Elwood, and just wanted to make sure that the author of the folio was the same person, so I googled your dad's name, expecting to come up with a reference to the oral history--which it did.  But then I also saw his obituary on line, as well as your recent posting on the Christian Gift blog.  And I sort of did a double take, because it was posted today, and because you said that today was his birthday. It just seemed like such an odd coincidence that I should be looking at his file on today of all days.... which is when I thought I should send this to you.  I hope you don't think I'm being presumptuous.  It just seemed to me from your post that the two of you were close and that you might enjoy seeing it.  

She went on to say that her father also died last year; she found his birthday a few months later to be a particularly difficult day.

I know if someone found something like this of my dad's I would like to have a copy.  It's a tiny little book, maybe 6 x 6" and it is in good hands in our departmental files.  Some day I hope someone will write a little bit of history on the amazing folks who graduated from our department in the 1930s under Elwood--it seems like it was a challenging, but really interesting time.

Coincidence....or something more? (As my dad liked to say, "God works in mysterious ways.") Hard to say. What I do know is that the kindness this person extended to me deeply touched my heart.

She allowed me to see a little piece of my dad's work I wasn't even aware existed - written in his hand - on a day when I was missing him so very much. In a way, he was able to speak to me through her thoughtfulness. It's a gesture for which I am so very grateful.

Blessings come to us sometimes when we least expect them.

If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins them.
~Francis Bacon 

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. 
~Leo Buscaglia

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