MARY LYKE SITS in a Branson, Mo. theater with new friends, from left, Carol Bartol and Kathy Morris. 	         Tim Lyke photo
MARY LYKE SITS in a Branson, Mo. theater with new friends, from left, Carol Bartol and Kathy Morris. Tim Lyke photo

      I love coincidences, don’t you? I view them as God’s gentle, lighthearted reminder that we are not always as in charge of our lives as we like to believe.

     If I’m right about that theory, then God has been sending me a few reminders lately. ...

     During a lunch break while attending the Wisconsin Newspaper Association convention in Madison last month, Ian Stepleton, Tami Conlon and I decided to eat at Ian’s Pizza on State Street.

       Upon entering, Tami noticed a marker board announcing “Green Barn Farm Market” in Ripon as its featured farm. Because she lives next door to that farm, Tami took a photo of it and texted it to her neighbor, Heather Bandt, who owns the market with husband Tom.

     Heather replied with a selfie text. At that very moment, she was wearing a T-shirt advertising... Ian’s Pizza.

     During a recent visit to Branson, Mo. with friends Loren and Deanna Boone, we sat down to watch a 3 p.m. show at a theater. When a group of three  women and two men sat next to us, I leaned over and greeted the woman closest to me: “We were wondering if you were coming.”

     She smiled and struck up a conversation with my wife, who told her we were from Ripon and Green Lake. “We’re from Berlin and Green Lake,” Carol Bartol replied, introducing her travelmates including former Green Lake County Treasurer Kathy Morris and Mary Mlodzik, the receptionist at the veterinary clinic we and the Boones patronize.

     The best-ever coincidence in my life, however, occurred 39 years ago, during a first date with a woman at college.

     We went to see an old movie across town and upon our return, I walked her up to her dorm room.

     Taped to her door was a snapshot of her grandmother, Alice Anderson, with cigarettes up her nose and out her ears. Little did my date know that on my door that same evening I had a photograph of my grandfather, Carl Reichert, with cigarettes in his nose and ears.

     And little did my date realize that less than two years later we would marry.

     Call it fate.

     I prefer to think that God was giggling.

     To read the entire column, see the April 4, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.