Since publishing the last post, I’ve learned that the man I wrote about – the one EPI and I kept running into, who I became quite fond of, and whose last words to me so preoccupied my thoughts yesterday – was actually my third cousin.
About an hour after I had posted, I received an e-mail from my mother, asking, ‘Is the man you met [our friend]?’ and ‘Did he know who your people are?’*
That was it. No explanation. So after firing back the obvious ‘Yes that was him! Did you know him?’ I did the logical thing: logged on to Íslendingabók, a web that allows every Icelander to trace their lineage back to the 1700s, and entered our late friend’s name to be traced together with mine.
Sure enough, the answer came up: we were third cousins.
I just sat there, a million thoughts going through my mind. Just like the day before yesterday, when his last words made me rewind back to our last conversation, this made me rewind all the tapes of him I had in my head. So he and I had been related the whole time. No wonder I’d felt this sense of kinship!
After a while I started to feel a bit sad that we couldn’t have figured that out before. Not that I expect it would have made much difference – we wouldn’t have started to hang out together or anything. But it would have put a whole new spin on things. It would have given a whole new dimension and depth to our interactions, which would have been… nice.
Later in the evening, another e-mail came from my mother. [Incidentally, even though he and I were third cousins, he was my mothers’ age.] Our friend had flitted through her life periodically, as well. First, when she was at the business college where she met my father; our friend had approached her in the corridor one day and asked, ‘Are you the daughter of [my grandfather]?’ When she answered in the affirmative, he said, ‘Well then, I’m your frændi,’** before flitting away down the hall again.
Several years later, when she was on a trip to Lebanon, she received greetings from our friend, through a mutual friend of theirs. He had then just been there on a visit and had left just a few hours earlier. There were a couple of further – similar – occasions when their paths crossed in this way. In her words, ‘He was one of those people who would appear in my life in the most unexpected places, and sometimes in a way that was memorable. I remember him well. And so to me it was very strange to read about how he came and went in your life, too. Even after he was gone, he was able to surprise me and touch me.’
Life can sometimes be so very strange. Like this. What sort of meaning does this have? None, probably. Except it’s done something to surprise and touch at least three people: my mother, EPI and me. And in that way it’s remarkable.
LIFE GOES ON, AND WE HAVE WEATHER
Today was quite beautiful, again – sunny spells, calm breezes, nothing dramatic, just gentle. Weatherman sez we’re in for a heatwave this weekend – Iceland-style – with temps going up to 15-18°C. Mmm, can’t wait. The great outdoors – here we come! Right now we have 5°C and at 10pm it’s still light outside. Sunrise this morning was at 05.18 and sunset at 21.39, but nightfall isn’t until 22.44, nyah.
* A common Icelandic question: … hverja manna þú ert.
** In Iceland, frændi is a general term for a male relative, no matter how closely or distantly related.