On Feb. 6, 1997, after being single for many years, I met a guy in a bar in Madison and had a feeling of instant connection, even telling my coworker the next day I had met "the one." During our late-night conversation at the Blue Moon, John and I learned we both had parents who were teachers, and I always thought being a teacher's kid was our special connection. We married three years later, but if John and I had known about a deeper connection the night we met...
Last month, for the first time, I went on the annual "cemetery tour" in northern Wisconsin with John's family. The weather was gorgeous and we drove to cemeteries in Ashland, Clam Lake, and more to lay flowers. While looking at a grave in Mason, my mother-in-law, Deanna, remarked how her "Uncle Buck" Davey had taught high school in Kenosha. (My father grew up in Kenosha, then graduated from UW-Whitewater and taught high school science and math.) From the cemetery, I wrote my parents an email and asked if Dad remember a Mr. Davey. My step-mom, Marion, found Dad's 1949 yearbook, turned to the Science and Math page, and my dad--who is about to turn 91--recognized Mr. Davey right away. What a coincidence!
It's made me ponder the unknown connections we have with each other. For example, my great-great grandparents were a pioneer family in Sheboygan, and with two wives, my g-g-gp fathered 21 children. These people walked the same streets as me.
Now, I think about all the students my father influenced over the decades. At every class reunion, it never fails, someone comes up to me and tells me a story of how, as teachers, my Dad, or my mother or step-mom touched them. One even said my Dad changed his life, and a long-married couple I know first met in Dad's classroom. Being a science teacher is fundamental to who he is, and because of him I love science, photography, and nature. I do not know who influenced Mr. Davey, but I can bet his effect on my father has spread to thousands, if not tens of thousands of students.
This is not the first coincidence between John and me. My first husband was a roommate of John's brother Joe at UW-Madison in the early '80s and I remember meeting Joe way back then. But that's another story for another time.