Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Family Thing

"It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting!"
-Agatha Christie

Two of Mater's three brothers are police officers in Ireland; the third is an accountant.
A few years ago Spouse and I were visiting Ireland and we decided to visit each of my uncles in turn in their respective parts of the country.
We drove first to my uncle who lives by the sea in a very small town. It was New Year's Eve and we wanted to see the fireworks display.
My aunt and cousin and Spouse and I all set off; my uncle, who was on duty, was to meet us later.
In the buzzing crowd we were cajoled this way and that as we prepared for the show to begin. We were sheltered in a far corner of the harbour among at least a thousand people.
I wondered idly how my uncle would locate us all- we had not told him where we would be as we could not have known beforehand. I hoped he would find us in time.
Shortly before midnight I saw my uncle at a distance slicing his way through the masses. He was walking straight toward us without a fluster or a hesitation, not even turning his head to look around, despite the fact that I knew he could not possibly see us from his position.
He strolled to where we were huddled and began to converse about the fireworks as though nothing had happened.
I could not contain my astonishment.
"But how did you find us?" I gasped. "In all these people, how did you know where we were?"
He looked right at me and said,
"it's a police thing."

The following week we chose to visit another uncle in a neighbouring county. We had not driven to their home before and there was some confusion. At the last minute we decided that our best option was to call the family from our cell phone and ask somebody to meet us in the nearby town and lead us to the house. My uncle happily agreed and arranged to call us when he himself was in the town.
Spouse and I soon discovered that there were no landmarks to speak of and we finally stopped the car outside a pub; at least if my uncle called we could tell him that much.
We sat in the car in the gloom of Winter, long after the sun had gone down, and waited anxiously. We felt sorry that my uncle had to inconveniently leave his cosy fireside and venture into the night to search for us.
Despite our rental car being unfamiliar to my uncle and regardless of the darkness, his car soon pulled to a halt beside us. He had spent no time in looking for us and had glided up quietly beside us as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
I had to ask.
"How did you find us?"
This is no word of a lie: he looked right at me and said,
"it's a police thing."

Then there was just my accountant uncle left to see and we met him in Dublin in the bustle of a typical workday. Mater, Spouse and I sat in a crowded cafe in a shopping mall and waited for him. There were many corners and nooks in the cafe and for one moment I wryly wondered how he would find us.
He appeared at our table as though he carried a mystical map of his family members' precise whereabouts.
Without quite meaning to, I made a sly joke: "how did you find us?"
Before he was able to answer I disclosed his siblings' recent otherworldly exploits in detecting people's positions.
He is not a police officer and so he could hardly deliver the same reply.
Still, without missing a beat, he looked right at me and said with a faint smile, "ah. It's a family thing."
Good enough, I say. Good enough.


Beth said...

oh my goodness another wonderful story--it did make me wonder if your uncles have a Marauder's Map like Harry Potter--mischief managed!!

Pappy said...

Perhaps he was not an accountant after all but an undercover operative. Hummmmmmm.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Beth, I haven't read Harry Potter, believe it or not, so I had to look up that phrase about the map. It sounds quite like what I meant. I can just picture all three uncles unscrolling that map in trying to determine where their friends and family are. Or do they have one map each? ;)
Texican, You might be right! That it was all just a front. A clever one, though, one has to admit... I'll watch carefully next time I meet him. Thanks for the tip ;)

hele said...

HA! Not in my family. In my family after waiting for someone for four hours, who in turn was waiting for you somewhere else, we joke that it is a family thing :)

I love the atmosphere of your story all misty with a hint of warm Irish fires.

polona said...

wow, that is a lovely and intriguing story! enjoyed reading it :)

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Hele, that's really funny. Four hours... wow. I'm not the kind to wait four minutes!
And thanks for your kind words. I am so delighted that you like my stories. They've not been called 'misty' before, and I like it :)

Polona, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Sometimes these stories stay buried for a long time and then one day I think of them and next thing they're written down. Strange how it works.

Jaime said...

Maybe all three had conspired to hide a GPS system in your clothing or somewhere you would never suspect...a *secret agent kind of thing* so they could always find you.
That is quite astonishing! Especially the first part of the story..that vast sea of people and he beelined it right to you!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Jaime, who knows... who knows. It all seemed mysterious to me. I'd believe anything at this point ;)
Yes, in the first story- my uncle wasn't even looking around. He just knew...

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