My parents were only thirteen years old when they met each other for the first time. My grandfather, David, worked for the Mesa Arizona school district and so when summer time arrived, he and my grandmother would often pile their six kids into their car and take them on long trips around the country. By the time dad hit the age of eighteen, there wasn't a state in the continental US that he hadn't visited. It was on one of these summer trips that my father met my mom.
It was a Sunday and my grandparents decided to keep the Sabbath day holy by attending a Mormon church in Tampa, Florida, even though they were only passing through. And as it happened, my mom who was also thirteen at the time, was sitting in the pew either behind or in front of my dad. They took a liking to each other and committed to writing letters - which they did for eight years, until they were married at the age of twenty-one.
My question to Mr. Tailor was simple. What if my mom had been too tired to go to church that day? She could have easily spent all of Saturday fishing with her dad and been completely tuckered out to even consider church the next day, let alone go. Or consider my father's parents- I'm sure they were experiencing some fatigue of their own after an extended road trip- not to mention the fun they must have had wearing wrinkled and dirty church clothes to greet complete strangers. But they went and I was born ten years later.
This story gave me Mr. Tailor's full attention as he quieted in thought. Then I proceeded to tell him about how I'd met his father. It was a Memorial Day weekend and my youngest sister, seventeen at the time, was getting married. The wedding was held in our little home town and Mr. Tailor's dad was part of the wedding party and a roommate to the groom. That's when I met Mr. Hero for the first time and four months later, we were having a wedding of our own.
So I asked Mr. Tailor the following question: What if my sister hadn't married Roger that day? What if Mr. Hero had been sick and couldn't stand in as best man? Or what if he'd hit it off with my other sister, who'd originally been his blind date for the weekend?
"Then I wouldn't be here." Mr. Tailor wondered out loud as his smile caught mine.
|On the blind date w/ my sister, Betsy. She wasn't buying it.|
|A few days after the wedding. Mr. Hero and his other roommate, Andy,|
giving me a lift to the shuttle for home.
There certainly was no guarantee from the beginning that any of these unions would work out. Everyone was so young back then and willing to take the risks involving the matters of the heart. Since January, Mr. Tailor has had his own heart swept away by a young beauty who makes his face glow every time he mentions her name. She is sweet and bright and has enough energy to keep up with his seemingly endless supply. He could easily apply the "what if" game to his own life- to the point where the two of them came together- and he did. They're still young yet, and have lots of time to get to know and understand each other.
|Mr. Tailor and Claire|
It's a little unsettling to think that the major events of one's life have depended on the presumably insignificant ones. But I guess that's how the ball tumbles sometimes. And while thinking about the "what if's" on this night, alone with my son, I couldn't help but feel an immense gratitude for the significant "what is". And left it at that.