“The Mailman’s Surprise” — A short story about coincidences
This weekend our family went to my mom’s house in Indianapolis, so that she could see the kids and for an early birthday celebration for me ahead of my turning 36 this week. Our plan was to have a few low-key days around the house catching up, and then Saturday afternoon would be the birthday dinner and party.
Thursday and Friday were a little rough, as my son, Archie, was mildly sick and recovering from a fever, and my daughter, Poppy, had a bit of a cough herself, and no one was sleeping very well. But we relaxed, rested, and enjoyed each other’s company, and by Saturday morning both kids were mostly back to normal.
My mom spent Saturday decorating the house for the party, filling balloons, preparing snacks, picking up the cake, and generally creating an awesome birthday atmosphere for me and the kids. Katy helped out while I played with the kids, and we were all getting excited. Things were actively ramping up.
Once the decorating was done, my mom took Archie down to the basement playroom to get some quality playtime in ahead of the birthday dinner. As he’d been sick, she’d missed out on some highly anticipated playtime and wanted to make up for it the most she could. So they played for a bit and came upstairs for dinner around 4:30.
As they came up, my mom made a comment “Oh I hope Archie gets to see the mailman!” as they stood by the front door looking out the window. I didn’t make much of it, as I figured this must have been relevant to a book or how they were playing somehow. But alas, the mailman hadn’t arrived and so they came to the kitchen.
We gathered around the table, both kids in their high-chairs, and my mom, my wife Katy, and myself. We filled our plates, and almost as soon as we all sat down, Archie started yelling “Mailman”, “Mailman”, “Mailman” over and over. For those who have or have been around toddlers, word repetition is not a surprise and so I just brushed it off as a new word for him.
But this went on for about 10 solid minutes, over and over. “Mailman!” “Mailman!” Laughing about it, Katy joked, “Well if the mailman shows up at the door, we might have to call the police.” Again I thought this was a strange thing to say, as I pictured a mailman knocking on our door in my head, but ultimately I shrugged it off.
While this was all going on, the energy in the room was growing and growing. Poppy was yelling at the top of her lungs between bites of her dinner, which led to Archie yelling back louder, and it was becoming an incredibly loud dinner party for this small group of five. My daughter Poppy is a very mild-mannered 7-month-old who doesn’t typically exude this type of noise, so this was definitely out of the ordinary. The noise seemed to keep intensifying as dinner went on, and it felt like it was reaching a crescendo as finished dinner.
After we finished eating, my mom got up to go get my favorite part of any birthday celebration — the cake! On her way to go get it, she happened to stop by the front door and saw the mailman driving away from our house and down the street.
She stopped and exclaimed “Oh no! I wish Archie would have had the chance to see the mailman!” Again, it felt a bit strange, as for days we had been there and no one had made any big deal at all about the mailman, but again I brushed it off.
My mom went out to get the mail, brought it inside without a word, and went out to get the cake (two cakes actually). She brought the cakes in, lit candles, everyone sang Happy Birthday and we finished the party. The cake was fantastic (I had about 4 slices across 2 cakes). The kids were a mess, so Katy and my mom brought them upstairs for bath time and we moved on with our evening. I hadn’t given any more thought about the mailman or the mail whatsoever.
But Katy, being her somewhat snoopy self (I mean this in the most endearing way possible), wanted to see what had come in the mail. She went over to the counter and saw it was a single item — and immediately brought it over to me:
It was a simple bill, addressed to Arthur Warner, my dad.
A fairly normal occurrence? Well, my dad hasn’t lived at that house for over 15 years now, and he and my mom have long-since been divorced.
Oh, and he past away almost 6 years ago.
But he sure as hell found a way to make an appearance at my birthday party, right during the middle of the celebration. Because of the mailman.
Maybe my son repeating “Mailman”, “Mailman”, “Mailman”, for the first time in his life was a coincidence.
Maybe Katy’s joke about the mailman showing up for dinner was a coincidence.
Maybe all of Poppy’s loud yelling during dinner and the strange energy was a coincidence.
Maybe my mom’s comments “Oh I hope Archie gets to see the mailman” and “Oh no I wish Archie would have had the chance to see the mailman” was a coincidence.
Maybe her going out to get the mail during the middle of the dinner party was a coincidence.
Or maybe it was something else.
All I know is, if this was all a big series of coincidences — then coincidences can be pretty damn cool…