On a crisp January evening, my Night Writers group met, like every month to critique and celebrate each other’s work. That day, Margaret Lesperance, shared Patricia A. Williams’ book, ‘Once upon a Lifetime’. Full of questions to help record events in ones life, I saw this book as an excellent writer’s tool and decided on trying to obtain a copy. A page in the book provided the necessary information. I soon learned the phone number led to an answering service with an empty promise: “Please leave your name and number and we’ll call you as soon as possible.” The web address drew a blank and the email address was a virtual boomerang.
At $19.95 the book was reasonable priced, if only I could find someone to take my money. But somebody clearly forgot to tell Amazon what this book is worth. They offered used copies for $181.31. As much as I want it, sacrificing a year’s worth of coffee and chocolate, wasn’t an option. Five places in Winnipeg informed me the book was out of print.
Thanks to electronic connections we have information at our fingertips, which enabled me to try e-magic. I googled till it seemed I was cross-eyed, with no magic in sight. The information highway left me wanting and wondering why I was so driven to find this book. Then I found a review on the book by a John Melchinger – The Marketing Coach. It was a long shot, but I fired off an email praying this coach would produce a winner. He replied, he may have books, CD’s and knows the author!
After exchanging a few emails, I was reminded that our world has seemingly shrunk. The story unfolded like something from ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ giving ‘Once Upon a Lifetime’ a whole new meaning. Upon learning I live in Manitoba, John Melchinger told me, “My wife Jayne is originally from Oakville, MB... We make our home in Tampa, FL.” Living just a few miles from Oakville, this piqued my curiosity, so I replied:
“Small world! I live on a Hutterite colony just five miles west of Oakville. Perhaps we know Jayne's family.”
“My wife Jayne Alford-Melchinger is the younger sister of Bette Holliday of Oakville who used to teach in a nearby Hutterite colony.” John wrote. I wondered if my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Audrey Alford was Jayne’s mother. John’s answer took me back to a tragic time for my family.
“Audrey Alford was Jayne's and Bette's mother. She taught at your colony from 1968-1970. Jayne said one of those Christmas Eves a Hutterite family's home burned down and she donated her favourite dolly. Small world indeed.”
The time of the fire is not accurate, but that’s not important. I was the little girl who Jayne gave her favourite dolly to. I remember it well; tall with dark hair, which I fondly called ‘ma Alford Puppela’. After many years, against obvious odds and an electronic connection, I was blessed with a chance to thank Jayne for her noble gift. ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1
Maybe one day I will find the book. Today, I’m grateful to God for the virtual ride He took me on. As John Melchinger so eloquently put it, “All life seems an endless array and disarray of circles that cross every which way. This circle is not broken, although the way it came around to be whole is quite amazing.”