Strange How Things Happen Sometimes
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by Frank Shortt
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Recently I wrote a story for the Evergreen Times in San Jose about a 96 year old veteran of the
Second World War. It so happened that it was first printed in the Almaden Times.
I had interviewed
the man, Charles Robert Mathison, in April 2015, sending the resulting story immediately to the Times editor but for some reason the
story was held up until the week of August 10-14, at which time it was printed in the Almaden Times. The Sunday before the story appeared,
I was visiting the Evergreen Farmer’s Market and happened upon a booth where that a Jehovah’s Witness group was passing out tracts
to all the passers. I walked up to them and asked them if they had ever heard of one of their own named ‘Bob Mathison’, as he was
accustomed to be called.
They replied, “Sure we know him and, in fact, his memorial is scheduled to be held on Saturday, August 15,
at 2:00 p.m.” I told them that I had written an article about him and it would be printed the following Thursday. They asked me to
come to the memorial, at which I replied, “I would be happy to be in attendance!”
of the Times Media group informed me that his printer had printed 50 extra copies, for free, to be handed out to family members at
the memorial. I was asked to take the copies with me as I had written the article. I agreed to do so.
On Friday, August 14, I was having dinner at Panda Express on San Felipe Avenue where I found myself seated at the table next to an
Asian family consisting of a mother and two young boys. As I am a writer for the newspaper, I am the one most likely to start a conversation.
One can never tell what will emerge from a simple conversation.
As I passed by the three after
filling my water cup, I asked the older of the two boys, “So I guess you will be soon starting back to school?”
“Next week,” he replied.
So what grade will you be in?” I asked as I seated myself.
“Second grade” he replied proudly, and my brother is going into kindergarten.
This began a conversation which lasted until we were all finished eating. It turned out that Shirley, the mother of the two boys,
was a nurse. The older of the two boys told me about a trophy he had won at school for reading the most books. The younger of the
two can already read and write and has not even started kindergarten yet.
For some reason, the
conversation turned to what we would be doing on Saturday.
“I will be attending a memorial for a 96 year old WW2 veteran, I informed
“So what was the Veteran’s name?” Shirley asked.
I told her his full name and wide-eyed she exclaimed, “Bob?”
“Yes” I said.
“He used to come to the nursing facility day care where I work,” Shirley said with tears in her eyes.
I asked her if she would like
to attend the memorial and she said she and the boys would be there.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
was a very hot day but did not stop the overflow crowd who attended Bob’s memorial at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses on Clayton
Road in San Jose. I went a little early to take the article about Bob that had appeared in the Almaden Times the week before. I was
told by Ken, one of the members of the group, that He would put the papers in his car to be delivered to the luncheon which was to
follow the memorial. I did not quite understand his reasoning, at first, as I had made special time to deliver the papers and to attend
the memorial. Afterward, it began to dawn on me that Ken was a wise man. If the attendees had been given the paper during the memorial
they would not have paid attention to the speaker at the dais and would have been discussing the article. Ken and his wife had been
the caretakers and power of attorney for Bob when he was still able to stay in his home in Evergreen.
Shirley, with her two boys in tow, came about two minutes late to the memorial, but sat in the adjacent room and were able to hear
the proceedings from that vantage point. As soon as the memorial was finished at the hall, I began looking around the room for Shirley
and her children. I spotted her in the back talking to one of the gentlemen I had met before. I made my way to her and we greeted
each other as friends, even though we had only met the night before. I invited her and children to attend the luncheon to follow the
memorial, and she agreed to go. It was to be in a Mobile Home Park behind the Target store in South San Jose.
While at the luncheon, Shirley asked me who had had power of attorney for Bob while he was still living at home. I told her that it
was Ken and his wife.
“I have spoken to them on the phone quite a few times when it came to making decisions for Bob at the nursing
facility for veterans. I would very much like to meet them.”
“I am sure that they will be very happy to meet you before we leave.”
Sure enough, this was arranged and there was another connection concerning Bob that
would otherwise not have come about if I had not met Shirley the night before. Ken and wife were very happy to see Shirley in person.
Bob had spoken very highly of the nursing facility that he had attended during the day when Ken and his wife had to be at work.
There is a Power that makes things happen at the right time and place. We are just happy to be partakers of the events as they transpire.