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SERENDIPITY: Something lovely that one has not been looking for.

Last summer I had a lot of fun writing a short story, “My Tree of the Week”, and it appeared in The Star, a daily publication in Toronto, Ontario. It was a bit of a thrill to see my piece in the Saturday paper, but a greater delight was yet to come.

It’s fun when people comment on my blog posts, but the tree story generated a first. A note from someone I hadn’t seen in fifty years came to my inbox and I couldn’t have been more delighted.

I’m going to digress for a moment. Please bear with me.

If you’re a faithful follower of this blog — ha, ha, as if — you will recall that on December 17, 2012 I wrote about a school choir I was once part of. In our tiny country schoolhouse, grade six, seven, and eight kids occupied one of the three classrooms, and we were all automatically part of the choir. No try-outs, no options; everyone sang. If you follow the link you will be able to listen to two strangers singing a rather complicated song that we kids learned to perform just as well, and it was all thanks to a vivacious Scottish teacher, Mrs. McShane, who drew us into her world of music through her upbeat energy. We went to the top of local Kiwanis music festivals, a pretty big deal  in those days, but after I left for high school all contact and connection with Mrs. McShane ended.

Okay, back to the original story, and I’ll bet you know where this is going.

To my utter surprise, the article in the paper, plus (I assume) a quick Google search, led our Mrs. McShane to my website and a lovely note was waiting for me in the comment section. Before too long we took our conversation to email and notes flew back and forth. How strange to interact as adults, sharing information and updates about our lives since the time we were teacher and pupil. We talked of getting together for a real visit, but winter came and we put it off until spring, and then there was Covid. As the weather got nicer we continued to exchange occasional notes, and by August we realized that if we didn’t plan an outdoor visit soon, we’d be shut up indoors again. We picked a date.

Early in September I drove to Toronto, right to a lovely area near the lake where she lives. “I’ll wear a white hat”, she said, and after I parked I looked around and there she was! The white hat was the give-away, but I think I would have needed only a moment longer to identify her without it. Without online pictures available, I think she would have had a much harder time finding me!

We walked and talked, the conversation starting out a bit slowly. I mean, where do you begin when you first see someone in person after FIFTY years? Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long until we were well on our way to a really great visit. Sitting on a park bench, eating lunches we’d each packed for ourselves, the hours flew. We said goodbye knowing that Covid controlled future visits, but in spite of a long winter looming ahead, spring will come, and with it another long and wonderful outdoor conversation.

P.S. A few weeks ago a small miracle happened. For years I’ve had a couple of old cassette tapes from my mother hanging around. I finally located a player and put the tapes in, and guess what? I found the Kiwanis Festival singing my Mom had recorded of our little school choir. It wasn’t the song I wrote about, but I think this one is equally impressive, especially if you consider that the tape is fifty years old and I recorded it with my phone. As you listen, remember that we are children aged eleven to thirteen. And wait for verse three; it’s the best.



Phyllis writes words: words for stories, and words for books. Phyllis writes words for blogs too.

8 thoughts on “Serendipitous

  1. Wow!! Loved loved loved this. Serendipity indeed. A wonderful story! And the singing!!! Holy moly. You kids sounds fantastic. 11-13 years old?!? Incredible!

    Susan Philpott ________________________________

  2. I loved this Phyllis. What a wonderful opportunity to meet with your teacher. Mine was Principal Peter Neufeld in Niagara Falls. He took us to the Kiwanis Music Festival in 1967. One of the most happiest memories of my childhood. Thanks for reminding me of the power of music and the people who taught us.

  3. Phyllis, what a happy occasion to meet our Mrs. McShane again. She was the choreographing sparkle in our wonderful music program. Even the more emotional pieces, like Ave Maria were full of her energy. Still, when I sing it I feel her whispering in my ear for correct endings and vowels.
    I believe we were the only Canadian Choir with a clear Scottish accent.
    I remember her in her own extra-curricular production of THE GIRLFRIEND too.
    Please forward my contact into to her. I’d love to reconnect!

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