Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Family Separation, Disconnection, and Chaos Theory

What happens when you’re suddenly contacted by someone you’ve not seen nor talked to in 26 years? Stick around and let me tell you what happened to me.

Last week when I called my father, who’s recuperating from hip surgery in a convalescent center, I got to talk to my brother who happened to be in the room at the time. He asked me if I wanted the phone number and email addy of my first cousin, Pat. I took up pencil and paper and duly wrote down the information. Color me too  shocked to object or question anything.

It seems that she’d paid a visit to Dad that day while visiting with an old classmate. She even brought along the classmate. She’d been thinking about him recently, had spoken to her friend about not being able to contact him, and this classmate happened to be in Burger King one day to discover someone who knew Dad. In that round-about way, Pat was informed of his stay at the convalescent center.

Talk about your seven degrees of separation!

The upshot was that I now had in my possession the information to make contact possible after 26 years. The oddest part of this story, I suppose, was that this cousin had been on my mind for a couple of weeks. I had no clue why I kept thinking about her, though. Couple that oddity with the fact that all of a sudden I’d been picking up friend requests from writers from Indiana for a solid week, when I had no others before that. Now you can glimpse my need to shiver a bit.

Yep, things aren’t always what they seem on the surface, unless you’re like me, and have dealt with too many coincidences in the past to take them lightly. There is no such thing as a coincidence, in my humble opinion.

I contacted Pat, who now goes by a different nickname, by email. It was short and sweet and inviting. She responded immediately and we’ve been corresponding daily since.

We’re getting reacquainted. As we all know, people change over time. Life does that to a person. I’ve learned some things about this lovely woman that I would never have expected. For instance, she loves poetry and buys books of poetry every time she finds a poet that she can click with. She's happily used her time to garden since she retired a few years ago.

These are the kinds of things that I would have known if we could have communicated over those intervening years. We’ve lost time with each other. We’ve lost our connections. As we grow older, having family contemporaries becomes more difficult.
She is one of only three cousins of my age—within a year or so—on either side of my family. That’s a really small pool to draw from, and she’s the only relative that I know left on my mother’s side of the family. That pool just got dangerously small.

Why am I talking about all of this? It has to do with recognizing how fragile connections and communication really are. It focuses one’s attention on those bits of self that have been left behind; bits that impacted other people that one never expected. And, it allows for more examples of those seven degrees of separation that Chaos Theory is always shoving down our throats.

Remember I said that Pat loves poetry. I sent her a link to some of my published poems on the Soft Whispers site. She came back to me expressing her pleasure in a specific poem and told me how much it reminded her of her favorite poet, Gwen Frostic. She told me that she used to go to Gwen’s studio each year to get any new books of poetry that had come out since the last visit.

Now I’d never heard of that poet, but I remedied that with a Google search. Though deceased now, Gwen became an instant favorite of my own, as well. Look her up and see if you can figure out why. Her books are also still available on Amazon. Somehow I can see an order in my future.

I discovered a new poet, introduced to me by a cousin long estranged, reconnected with a much forgotten past, from a place I hadn’t lived in 26 years. I think that’s a good week’s work, don’t you?

I’m just trying to figure out what I’m going to discover this week. Until I find out, take care, all, and may blessings litter you path through life.



  1. What a great story Clauds. Makes you think about the mysteries all around us and why things happen the way they do. Its a bit spooky now and then but a good kind of shiver inducing issue. Glad you got a reconnect and very glad I saw this post.


  2. Thanks so much, Court. I'm glad you enjoyed it. The Universe works in ways that I certainly cannot explain. The old adage that ignorance is bliss has come to mean for me that if one isn't aware of how things come together sometimes, that shiver factor won't fretted over.

  3. This is a great story. And I agree, there are no such things as coincidences.

    I recently got in touch with a cousin this summer. We were very close growing up and he was more like a brother to me. THen we both got married and life got in the way. He moved to Texas. I moved to Germany. But this year my brothers visited him and we emailed a few times. I went to visit him last month and we had a blast. And I learned lots of things about him. We were on Congress Bridge in Austin watching the bats and a deaf man came along. Suddenly my cousin starts signing with him. I asked, "When do you learn that?" And he told me there is man at work who is deaf so he learned.

    Always so many things to discover in people if we take the time.

    Have fun getting to know your cousin again. Who knows were the road might take you.

  4. For me, Linda, I think what intrigues me so much is that while I know this woman--and have for so many years--I don't know her at all. I have early memories of her and how her life interfaced with mine. That is all we have at present,

    Now we must present outselves to each other as older adults who've lived a lifetime separated by more than miles; the separation has comprised attitudes, education, philosophies, and careers, not mention marriage for her and none for me.

    This is a coming together of not-strangers who much walk carefully so as not to destroy a shared past where friendship and family clung to each other.