Monday, February 18, 2013

Truth is stranger than fiction (Valentine’s Day edition)

A few years ago our neighborhood formed a “Sizzlin’ Seniors” group. The most sizzlin’ thing we ever did was have a group trip to a Chinese restaurant, but we formed several new friendships over the months and occasional meetings that followed.

Two of our new friends were Andy and Eda. When we met them, Andy was 87 and his wife, Eda, was 92, although they both looked 20 years younger. Andy had been in the import/export business in Manhattan. Eda hailed from New Jersey. Andy was Spanish. Eda was Italian. They had been married for over sixty years. They had moved into our neighborhood to live with their daughter Andrea and her husband.

Last September, Andy died at the age of 90. We attended his memorial service at St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic church in Woodstock. A few days ago, Andrea called and invited us to come help celebrate Eda’s 95th birthday.

At one point in the afternoon, while Eda sat in the living room talking with some old friends, Andrea sat with some of us at the kitchen table and told us an amazing story.

She said she had had a dream the previous weekend in which her Daddy came and talked with her. “Get some flowers and some chocolate candy and give them to Mama for Valentine’s Day,” he said. “Get tulips, because she doesn’t like the fragrance of roses. And buy pink ones, because she doesn’t care for red flowers."

Andrea remembered the dream the next morning. The first thing she saw when she signed on to her home page on the computer was a vase of pink tulips and a box of chocolates. This is not the part where truth is stranger than fiction. You expect to see advertisements for flowers and candy when it is a few days before Valentine's Day. It was just a coincidence that this ad showed tulips instead of roses. But still, what a coincidence! She ordered the flowers and candy and arranged for them to be delivered to her home on Valentine’s Day.

On Thursday morning, her doorbell rang and there was the delivery guy with her order. She carried them to the room where Eda was sitting. When Eda saw Andrea she said, “Oh, those are for me! Daddy sent me flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day, didn’t he?”

“Well, sort of,” was all that Andrea could manage to reply.

Now comes the part where truth is stranger than fiction.

Eda looked up with a smile on her face and said, “He told me he would.”


  1. I love things that make me say, "Hmmm...." :)

  2. I have no idea if you care how I, given my stance about the supernatural, think about such things, but I'll tell you in case you do. I would see them as either a coincidence, or as an embellishment of the truth. Note that I didn't say a lie, because my best guess is simply that as things get told and retold, the account is gradually altered to the point that one's memory changes, and the truth of what happened is forgotten, and a comforting story replaces it. This is why when I recall events from many years ago, I wonder if they really occurred as I remember them.

  3. Snow, I get where you're coming from and I agree about the dubiousness of the "told and retold" phenomenon. However, two points: 1. Andrea's mom said it to Andrea on Thursday, and two days later Andrea said it to me. 2. I am the sort of person who can repeat things verbatim. It bugs me to no end when someone gives "the gist" of something that happened but manages to get a lot of details wrong. In this instance, I heard it from the person it happened to only a couple of days previously, not through a series of embellished re-tellings.

  4. "Andrea's mom said it to Andrea on Thursday, and two days later Andrea said it to me."

    Yes, I know, but I was writing in terms of a generality regarding such fantastic accounts. As for your specific account, that leaves it to be a chain of unlikely coincidences (or a falsehood, of course). My assumption regarding this would be something that I think might go back to Sherlock Holmes, and goes to the effect that, when the impossible is eliminated, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth of the matter. So, are such things impossible? I suspect so although I would be happy to believe differently. As a bit of an aside, something that has always struck me as odd regarding the behavior of spirits is that they hardly ever (not counting this case) seem to do anything useful. Instead, they content themselves with knocking over knicknacks, walking through walls, and doing other things that just aren't helpful.