It’s a Small World After All

I doubt that many people who’ve been to Disneyland or Disney World left without having their fill of the song “It’s a Small World After All.” Personally, I’m still sick of it!

But that doesn’t mean I’m not conscious of “small world coincidences.” Let me share a few I know about.

Karen was one of the young ladies in the Baptist Student Union at Frostburg State College (now University). That’s in western Maryland, if you’re not familiar with it. I graduated in 1968. In 1984, when we moved to Richmond, Virginia, we joined the church Karen’s father had once pastored.

Okay, that wasn’t a huge “small world” illustration. Let me try again.

One Black Friday while I was still working at Target, I’d been stuck in Electronics; I’d never worked that area before. Let me tell you–that’s a busy place on Black Friday! One customer looked at my name tag, which only said, “Roger.” Then she asked, “Is your last name Bruner?”

Lo and behold, she was a former English student of mine from two hundred miles away and more than thirty years after I taught her.

And do you know what was really weird? She recognized me by my voice!

I used to have a good friend in Australia. At that time she was working for an American company that did business in Oz. She told me about a friend she had in America and one she had in South Africa. Somehow she learned that those two people were friends with one another–and it had nothing to do with their friendships with her.

That was pretty wild, wasn’t it?

Then there’s the lady I used to work with. This was at least twenty or twenty-five years ago. She told the story of baby sitting at the home of a song writer in Memphis when the doorbell rang. The song writer was getting ready to go out, so this lady answered the door, only to be facing Elvis face-to-face.

She was so shocked that she closed the door and went to find the song writer, who assured her it was okay to let Elvis in. He was so pleased at being treated like a regular person that he invited the baby sitter to a meal at Graceland. That was before he’d fixed it up as much as he did later.

He sent a limo to pick her up, and after the meal they sat in the entertainment room looking through old photo albums.

In 2003 I married Kathleen. Several years later I learned that one of her sisters-in-law was one of the kids being baby sat that evening while her dad–song writer, musician, and recording engineer Stan Kesler–went out.

Stan is still alive, but in poor health. I feel blessed to have met him.

Do you have a “small world” experience you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

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My Dynamic Mother-in-Law

I’ve been blessed with two wonderful mothers-in-law over the years. The first is now deceased and enjoying the blessings of heaven. She was a wonderful woman, and my divorce from her daughter didn’t make me stop loving her.

And now there’s Anna, who has been my mother-in-law for the past thirteen years. She’s ninety now and in reasonably good health. She lost her husband, J.A.–he had only first and middle initials–at the beginning of this year after going downhill almost from the beginning of my marriage to Kathleen,

She loved and supported him in ways Kathleen and I wouldn’t have had the patience to do, even if we had lived closer. But JA’s demise enabled her to do much of her grieving during his final days, especially after he entered hospice. So his funeral was a celebration of his life, complete with military honors.

Many widows at Anna’s age would’ve grieved themselves into the grave. Or at least thrown their hands up in the air at having to fend for themselves.

But not Anna.

She didn’t waste time moving on with her own life. Yes, she gets some help from her two sons–one lives close enough to be more help than the other–but she still lives by herself at Bellevue Woods, a retirement community owned and operated by Bellevue Baptist Church. “Retirement,” not “Assisted Living.” She doesn’t need that.

Although she rarely drives, she does drive to the Methodist church she faithfully attends. She also stays busy in community activities.

When one of Kathleen’s brothers gave his mom a laptop for her ninetieth birthday, she willingly started learning the basics. She still gets excited when she sees a response  to an email she has sent.

She accompanied one of her sons on a road trip from Memphis to Texas to visit family members she hadn’t seen in a while. How wonderful that she was willing to do that once–and to accept the fact that riding that long in a car is not something she’ll do again.

Even more important to Kathleen and me, she will be flying to Richmond (arriving tomorrow) to visit us for Thanksgiving this year. Although Anna must change planes in Atlanta–that’s an ordeal even for younger, more mobile people–Kathleen has arranged for wheelchair transport between terminals.

What’s extra-special about this trip is it’s the first time she’s been free to visit us in the thirteen years Kathleen and I have been married. Not for lack of a desire to come, though. But because JA’s needs tied her closely to home.

I haven’t seen Anna in two or three years, but Kathleen is probably more accustomed to the fact that her mother has aged and slowed down. But that doesn’t change who she is or how I feel about her. Kathleen normally talks to her mom by phone once a week–I hope we can teach her to use Skype while she’s here!–and she always, ALWAYS has Kathleen tell me she loves me.

What more could I ask for in a dynamic mother-in-law?

What about you? Do you have a favorite relative or in-law? How about sharing a little about him or her?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.


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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,