It’s such a small world. Some people call this "six degrees of separation," which Internet’s Wikipedia defines as "the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person through a chain of no more than six acquaintances."
I experienced a somewhat similar moment recently at the London Drugs store in St. Vital.
Finding myself shoulder-to-shoulder with a middle-aged woman at the greeting card display (I’ll call her Ms X), and noticing the horrible price of some cards before putting them back, I nonchalantly commented, "Look at these prices! I think I’ll phone or Skype my family instead."
Ms X smiled and said she was looking for a special card for a friend from long ago.
I immediately held up a pretty one with the caption "To a dear friend" — it seemed exactly the kind she wanted.
Ms X smiled more broadly. "Look — I’ve picked the same card!" she exclaimed.
Serendipity? I thought that would be the end of that.
But then she bent forward, leaned my way to see my face better, and asked, "Pardon me — is your name Anne?"
Hesitantly I answered, "Yes, but how do you know that? Who are you?"
"And does your last name start with Y?"
By this time we were both in each other’s faces.
"I read your book, Come Walk with Me — I’ll Tell You a Story. Let’s see — yes, you still have that gold tooth in front like you described. I recognized you from the pictures. Loved all the descriptions."
It was just too much of a coincidence to have stumbled upon her this way. Yes, I had put some life stories together into a book right after my bout with cancer surgery back in 2000.
"Hurry up and get me out of here," I’d told my doctor "I have work to do." And I’d done it!
It’s amazing how serious illness can concentrate your mind, your will power, to get things done. And here in 2013 was the pay-off —a total stranger telling me things about myself that I had long forgotten I’d written down.
She mentioned how grieved she’d felt when she read my "Letter to My Sister," an 18-year-old I’d lost when I was nine. She related to my descriptions of life on the farm in the 1930s and 40s. And she was thoroughly amused by the fact that our family named our cows descriptively, as her family had, using Ukrainian words like Hruba (Fattie), or Krasa (Spotted One), or Sywa (Grey One). And then there was Soyka (meaning unknown).
Turning quite serious, she thanked me profusely for recording the past and for making my book available to others like herself. It just reinforced my belief that it’s important to record our term of life on this earth, just as we have recorded our parents’ lives before us. We are all part of Canada’s history. And we never know who is going to benefit from our work, for there’s supposedly only six degrees of separation between each of us at most.
Nor will Ms X have any trouble finding Dakota House for the brunch I’ve invited her to, because, like me, she’s lived nearby in St. Vital all these years. It’s a small world alright.
Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital.