A Rescued Dog, Coincidental Vacations, and Serendipity

 

As some of you may have noticed, I took a three week break from the blog, which, I believe, is the longest break I’ve taken since I launched this website nearly four and half years ago.

So, I have some catching up to do, but first, I want to share a few exceptionally strange things that have happened during the last three weeks:

1. Maggie the dog was found, alive and well, after 22 days on the lam.

I posted about my childhood dog, Maggie, about a month ago. I wrote her obituary, actually. My family and I had all assumed that after the 16-year-old, half-blind, deaf, arthritic, and tumor-laden daschund went missing, she probably had just taken herself out to pasture.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the rumors of Maggie’s demise were greatly exaggerated. My family looked for her; don’t get me wrong. Door-to-door for a solid week. The consensus was: She was an old dog who probably crawled up to die somewhere in the brush near the small lake close-by.

Really, it’s a crazy story: More than three weeks after Maggie disappeared, my mother visited her local veterinarian to schedule an appointment for her other dog. The vet asked her about Maggie, and after learning that she had gone AWOL, she said that an elderly lady had recently visited in order to report that she had found a daschund walking herself down the middle of a very busy street in Dallas. (My mother moved to Dallas a few months ago). The lady picked up the dog, bought her dog food and a leash, and even took her on walks every day for nearly two weeks.

And sure enough, it was Maggie– living over three miles away and in the care of an incredibly generous stranger.

This is as best as we can piece it together: Someone stole the dog from my mother’s backyard, either to steal her rabies tags (all of her tags were missing) or with the intention of extorting a reward from my mother.

But we never seriously considered the possibility that Maggie had been dognapped. My mother lives in a zero lot-line, gated neighborhood; it’s not easy to just casually drive into the neighborhood. You have to give your name and the name of the person you’re visiting to a security guard just to drive in. It seemed highly unlikely someone had snuck in and then, somehow, enticed a half-blind and deaf dog to leave with them.

But considering the elderly lady had spotted the dog twelve days after she went missing- miles away and walking herself down the middle of the road, it now seems likely that someone had picked her up, held her hostage for twelve days, and, when it became clear that an award was not forthcoming, they simply dumped her off.

Somehow, miraculously, she was rescued and then reunited with my family. She was emaciated; during those first twelve days, she probably didn’t eat anything. But today, she’s already gained back most of the weight she lost, and believe it or not, she’s probably the healthiest and happiest she’s been in months, if not years.

Lesson being: 1) Dognapping is still a profession for some. 2) Get your dog one of those microchips. (If Maggie’d had a chip, she would have been found two weeks earlier). 3) The lady who rescued Maggie will always be a hero to my family.

2. Alexandria in Mexico

I spent the Christmas holiday weekend in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, which is one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever visited. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, primarily because, by New World standards, it’s ancient: Most of San Miguel was built from 1500 to 1800. In recent years, San Miguel has become one of the world’s most popular communities for American expatriates– artists, writers, and wealthy retirees.

(Click to zoom)

It’s an easy trip from the U.S.; from Houston or Dallas, it’s a two hour flight to Guanajuato and then an hour drive into the heart of the city.

I went to San Miguel with my mother; the rest of my family had previous obligations for Christmas, so, on a whim, we decided to visit San Miguel. (You can get an amazing suite in a five-star hotel for less than $100 a night). Before we booked our flights, I was only vaguely familiar with San Miguel, and my mother had never even heard of the place.

Anyway, about two weeks before we left, someone at my mother’s church in Dallas (who knew my mother was from Alexandria and who also happened to know another family from Alexandria– a family that also happens to be friends of ours) asked her about her plans for Christmas. When my mother told her that she was going to San Miguel, the lady said something like: “That’s great. I guess you’ll be there with your Alexandria friends, since they just bought that house in San Miguel.”

Suffice it to say, we had no idea that our Alexandria friends were also going to be in San Miguel for Christmas, much less that they had bought a vacation home there. As it turned out, they weren’t traveling alone: There was another couple from Alexandria- a local doctor and his wife- who had also booked the trip. We made plans to meet up and have dinner with them on Christmas Day.

Small world, right?

But it gets a little crazier. After we arrived in San Miguel on Christmas Eve, we checked up on our friend, who was in the middle of dinner. I’m not sure how or when, but at some point, our friend discovered that yet another couple from Alexandria, a lawyer and his wife, was in San Miguel for Christmas. Incidentally, the lawyer is actually one of my neighbors (he lives about two blocks away from me), and even more bizarre, they were staying at our hotel, directly next door to our room. For a few nights, a small hotel in the middle of a small city in the center of Mexico hosted six people from Alexandria, Louisiana- more than 10% of their entire bookings, none of whom had coordinated or had planned to visit together.

We all just picked the same place at the same time.

I spent Christmas dinner at a small Italian restaurant (eight tables, no menu) in the Mexican countryside, fifteen minutes outside of San Miguel, with eight other people from Alexandria.

Lesson being: Wherever you go, there you are. And Alexandrians are everywhere.

(When I was thirteen, I spent a few weeks in St. Paul, Minnesota, most of which were in a hospital bed, recuperating from a series of orthopedic operations. But a couple of nights before the surgery, my family took me to the Mall of America, which, at the time, had only been open for two or three years. We were wandering around the mall, and as we ascended an escalator, we randomly stumbled upon the entire junior high school youth group from Calvary Baptist Church of Alexandria, Louisiana. There were at least two dozen kids, and I knew nearly all of them from school. It was surreal. Pure coincidence).

3. “I Only Know One Lamar White.”

We left San Miguel, flew into Mexico City (which is an amazing site to behold from an airplane window), and then flew to Cancun, where we stayed for a few more nights. Funny enough, we were joined by two other friends from Alexandria, but unlike San Miguel, we had coordinated with them ahead of time. No surprises there.

But there was at least one surprise.

During a tequila tasting (sounds like a recipe for disaster, I know, but it was actually very subdued and informative), I got to talking with another guest, a guy from Colorado who said he had lived in Dallas during college.

I introduced myself, and he said, “I only know one Lamar White,” which he said was one of his college fraternity brothers.

Long story short: The guy was a friend of my father’s in college. But in the thirty years since, they’d lost touch. He didn’t know my father passed away nearly ten years ago.

Gotta say: It was pretty cool to randomly meet someone who knew and remembered my father from college.

No lesson here, really. Just serendipity.

5 thoughts

  1. Hi Lamar!

    Great to have you back! I spent a little time in Mexico right after Christmas – I took a group of 19 people from my church (Christian Challenge Worship Center in Pineville) and New Life Community Church in Alexandria to an orphanage in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico from December 26-January 1. While there we did a shopping trip to a Nuevo Progreso and I bumped into Craig Brasfield, formerly of the Alexandria Aces. Felt a little serendipitous as well! Glad you’re home – look forward to more great posts from you!

    Blessings,
    natahn

    1. Wow. That is awesome. I remember Craig Brasfield. It’s nice to be reminded what a small world we live in.

      My grandparents like to tell a story about a trip to Spain they took in the 1970s. They were walking down a street in Madrid when they stumbled upon their next door neighbors from Alexandria. Their first inclination was: Wow, these people look EXACTLY like our neighbors, perfect dopplegangers. And then, of course, their neighbors also recognized them. (I had the same experience at the Mall of America).

      By the way, it sounds like your church in Pineville and New Life in Alexandria are doing great things. Last year, my mother and brother volunteered to help build an orphanage in Costa Rica; I’m intensely proud and intensely jealous. (For what it’s worth, I doubt they would use the word “volunteer;” the experience was incredibly rewarding for both of them, as I’m sure it was for you and the eighteen others from Cenla who spent their holiday break helping orphaned children in Reynosa. Kudos).

  2. Welcome back Lamar! Have been missing your posts. Yours is often a pleasant perspective on things and I enjoy reading them. I especially enjoy hearing of the things we encounter in life that are eye-openers to us with regard to how connected we are -all of mankind- to each other despite the geographical boundaries we share. Interestingly, and I think most importantly, the ways our lives intermingle and correlate to others across the globe is of far greater importance than we might imagine.

    As for Mexico, Alexandria would seem to have a healthy investment of citizens taking an interest in doing what they can to bring bits and pieces of our abundance to others down there in need. I know several doctors who spend a good bit of time down there doing what they can to provide modern medical services to many less fortunate people. People who give are truly the happiest.

    Look forward to hearing more of your thoughts in the future Lamar.

    Billy Parsons

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