Coincidence: sometimes it can freak you out

Abraham Lincoln. His son knew a thing or two about coincidence

Someone once said you should always wear the good suit because you never know who you’ll meet.

For example, in the little café on the top of Table Mountain in Capetown, I was served by a waiter who had been a student of my aunt in Nenagh in secondary school.

In Sydney, I met an elderly man who was from the same Tipperary village as my father and who, when I told him my surname, gave me the names of my father and all his siblings though he hadn’t been home for 40 years!

A couple of weeks ago, a man called to our house to deliver something for the garden.

We were chatting and, as it was just before the All Ireland Finals, he asked if I was a Dubliner.

I answered as I always do. I told him I was but I was half Tipperary and half Roscommon.

“Where in Tipperary?” he asked, adding he was also from the Premier Country.

“Ah, a little village in the north of the county. It’s called Templederry.”

“I’m from Templederry,” he said. “What name?”

So I told him and he mentioned one or two of the Murray families in the area.

Then he asked me the names of my cousins there. 

So I began: “John, Seamus, Declan…”

He interrupted.

“Was there a Helen?”

“Helena,” I said.

“Well,” he said, “I was in school with her.”

And I thought that amazing.

As it happens, I hadn’t met Helena for years though I fondly remember all our holidays on the farm and like most large, spread out families, we tend now to meet mostly on sad occasions.

Anyway, a couple of days later, I strolled into my local chemist to pick up a prescription.

Who was standing there?

Helena of course.

A shiver ran down my spine and if I had hair it would have stood up on the back of my neck.

Einstein said a coincidence was when God wished to remain anonymous!

That’s in the halfpenny league to the story of Abraham Lincoln’s son Todd who had been by his father’s bedside when the president passed away.

Sixteen years after his father was shot dead, Todd was at the station in Washington ready to travel to New Jersey with President James Garfield for whom he worked. 

But a disgruntled lunatic called Charles Guiteau shot Garfield in the back inflicting fatal wounds.

Twenty years later, President William McKinley invited Todd to a function in Buffalo New York.

Todd was on his way to meet the president when an anarchist called Leo Czolgosz shot him dead.

Coincidence?

Maybe.

Or else Todd was just a feckin’ jinx.

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