Friday, April 22

Random Moments That Alter Our Lives Forever

Liz KesslerCoincidences, synchronicity or random moments - as author Liz Kessler calls them - can have a major impact on our lives. It's possible that some of us may not be here today, but for such a happening occurring in our family history.

Liz Kessler's grandparents lived in Vienna in the early 1930s and when her father was four years old he had a bad bout of whooping cough. As he recovered her grandfather took his young son on a Danube steamer as a treat.

As children tend to do, her father knelt on a seat as he watched the scenery go by. As he did so his feet got nearer and nearer to an English woman, who was sitting with her husband. He was told to be careful or he would dirty the lady's dress.

This didn't seem to worry the woman and she and her husband chatted away happily to to Liz's grandfather and father. They got quite carried away and somehow the English couple missed their stop.

The grandfather was full of apologies, though it wasn't really his fault, and as compensation offered to show the couple some of his city. After the tour he took them to his home for traditional cakes and coffee.

The couple were a Mr.& Mrs. Jones and after the event sent their new friends a note of thanks, written on paper from Mr.Jones' dental practice - which included the address.

The world, however, moved on and for the Jews in Vienna it became an uncomfortable place to live, as the Nazis came to power.

Liz Kessler's grandparents, along with her father, moved to Czechoslovakia thinking they would be safe there, but the Germans soon spread their wings into that country as well. As Jews they felt their lives were in danger and wanted to move away to England.

They had a big problem, as before they were allowed to leave Czechoslovakia, they needed an affidavit from someone in England to say they would take full financial responsibility for them.

What this in effect meant was that they would have to leave all of their family's money and possessions behind for the Nazis, and leave with nothing.

As Liz's grandfather was sorting through some of his papers he came upon the note from Mr.& Mrs.Jones. Frightened for the lives of his family he wrote to them hoping they would perhaps sign the necessary papers.

This was obviously a very long shot, and was asking a lot, but within weeks the English couple replied and said they would do whatever was required, and that they could live with them until they could find a home of their own.

The family of Jews left with nothing other than the clothes they were wearing, but managed a safe journey to England. They lived with the Joneses for six months and became life long friends.

But think of what may well have happened to Liz's grandparents and father. There is a possibility that she would never have been born.

As Liz puts it: "When I think about it, it blows my mind. If my father hadn't been ill; if his father hadn't decided he needed cheering up with a boat trip; if he hadn't knelt on his seat; if the Joneses hadn't missed their stop. At the end of all those ifs is a prospect I don't want to contemplate. No one needs reminding what kind of future awaited a Jewish family living under the Nazis."

Coincidences, synchronicity and random moments can play such important roles within our lives. And then there is the generosity and kindness of Mr.& Mrs.Jones. I wonder how many of us would have entered into such a commitment following a short one off meeting?

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  1. Terrific and powerful story. She really lays out the what ifs!

  2. So interesting that you posted this today as I was just thinking of the concept of "fate". It's those little moments in time that can change everything. My father became very ill the same week that penicillin became available at a pharmacy fairly nearby...his father made a trek to get it. Without it, he would not have made it and I wouldn't either, nor my children.

  3. An amazing story!