Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is your "Titanic" story?

Okay, I admit the title was designed to make you "read on". But, it was prompted by remembering moments in my life that might never have taken place had it not been for some other unforeseen event I had no control over.

And, yes, there is a "Titanic" story to my life...one that I was unaware of until just a few years ago when I was told by my sister, Avril, that our grandfather...our father's father...was a pianist and was commissioned to play on the maiden voyage of the Titanic in April of 1912. But, he missed the boat train. When researching the web for a photo of that infamous ship, I was taken with the story of the photographer of this photo. It is a great story and I'll link you to it here. His story is another example of "what if"...

That was the first of several "what ifs" that thread through the pattern of my life's story. The next "what if" would be: "What if my mother's father hadn't been late to pick her up at the dock when she sailed from America to England in 1943?" She wouldn't have met the young RAF airman who asked if she needed help. And later, when she had left the airman and decided it was too difficult to be a single mother, "What if her father hadn't been 'on time' in the lawyer's office while she was signing adoption papers for a childless English couple to get a 2-year-old daughter?"

I've often wondered "What if my mother hadn't moved from New Jersey when I was 15 and was just finishing high school?" I would have remained eligible for the scholarship I'd been given to attend what was then Ryder State Teachers College.

"What if my best friend Marcia in Florida hadn't become a Delta flight attendant in 1964?" I would never have been encouraged to try it myself. And "What if my foot hadn't fallen asleep and I practically fell over when my interviewer asked me to walk across the room?" Did my humor at my own awkwardness help? (I guess it did.)

I think I may have already written about how Joe and I met, but that certainly is another: "What if Vicki D's roommate hadn't stayed so long at the San Diego Zoo on February 3, 1967?" (She would have gone on the blind date instead of me.)

That leads to another "what if" moment that our daughter Michelle experienced. As a Delta flight attendant, she occasionally meets former Naval aviators who knew her Dad. On one occasion the Captain called Michelle into the cockpit and asked, "Are you related to Joe Sarnecky?" When she said she was his daughter, he said, "Well you probably want to come over here and shake my hand. I was the helicopter pilot that picked him up out of the water off the coast of North Vietnam in 1968." If he hadn't been there, Joe might have ended up in Hanoi. She gave him a hug!

I know you've all read the stories about the people who would have been at "ground zero" if it hadn't been for something that caused them to change their routine that morning. We have one of those stories in our family too. Michelle was in California with her boyfriend, Mike, to attend a Chargers/Redskins game. Because our son-in-law, Neal, and Mike were both Redskins fans, Joe had purchased tickets for the six of us to attend the game on September 9, 2001. Had Mike not come out for that California vacation, he would have been arriving at the subway station at the Twin Towers to go to work at the building across the street. Happily, he was here instead and is now our son-in-law.

I had some other topics in mind for today, but I have been thinking about this topic since our cruise to Halifax where many victims of the Titanic are buried. The alternative might have been a "rant" on television ads that precede election day (I didn't want to put you through that).

I hope this post has sparked that part of your memory where you keep the "what ifs" of your life. If it did, consider doing what I have done this morning...I said a heartfelt "thank you, God" for all those moments and all those people who were His instruments and brought me to this wonderful place in my life.

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