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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cecil Chimes In (Part 1 of 2)

(This week marks exactly three years since a coincidence of timing led to a beautiful moment. I wrote the story below three years ago, and then I couldn’t find where I saved it! These days I’m more organized about where I file my stories on the computer. But in retrospect, I like that I’m posting this piece three years after I wrote it. It gives me more perspective on the events that took place.)

Originally written in Dec. 2010:

Have you ever witnessed a coincidence that seemed too significant to write off as happenstance? Recently something happened that I’m still mulling over in an attempt to understand it.

It was my birthday and I was outside, hanging up the wind chimes that Hubby had given me. From next door I heard another set of wind chimes, not the subtle sound they make when a breeze barely moves them, but a loud sound. The house next door has sat empty for two months, so sounds from that property make me take notice. The chimes kept hitting one another, as though they were being moved by someone. It took me only a second to decide what to do. I walked next door and called through the screen at the front door. A man I didn’t know answered and I asked about the chimes. He said they were available, and I took them back to my place and hung them up.

Three months ago the man next door passed away. His name was Cecil, and he was in his eighties. He'd lived in his house for fifty years, and we were friends as well as neighbors. Recently there have been people cleaning out his house. I knew it had to happen, but it made me a bit sad to see his furniture thrown abruptly into a dumpster. As I stood at his door, looking into the bare living room, the emptiness was startling. The day before I’d thought of asking the crew if I could have a table from Cecil’s house. As an artist, I like painting furniture to make it unique, but after some thought I decided not to ask. I’m trying to downsize, and I also didn’t need an object in order to remember Cecil.

Today, as I took the trash out front, I ran into two of the men cleaning out Cecil’s house. We chatted a minute and they seemed friendly. Maybe that is what led me to go next door less than an hour later, when I heard those chimes. In that hour the two men had left or gone to lunch and someone else was working outside. I told him I’d heard the chimes and asked if he’d taken them down as part of the clean-up effort. He said yes, and I asked if I could have them.

I returned home with them, and installed them near my other sets of chimes. The sound they make is not like any of the other wind chimes I have. It’s a beautiful, high sound. There had been a stained-glass clipper ship at the top of Cecil’s chimes, but the ship had broken off of the chimes when they’d been thrown away. This didn’t bother me and the chimes still worked.

It seemed so significant to me that I heard Cecil’s chimes as I hung up the beautiful new chimes from my husband. I hadn’t been outdoors yet that day and I was only outside for three minutes as I hung my new chimes. It seems so amazing to me that Cecil’s old chimes were moved during that brief period of time when I was outside and could hear them. It may have been coincidence that led to my hearing and asking for those chimes. Or maybe it somehow was a birthday gift from Cecil. Either way, each time a breeze blows through our yard I smile. Hubby’s new chimes contrast with Cecil’s old ones and my other sets, each like a member of an orchestra making music together. Music is a gift, and friendship is a gift. As I hear Cecil’s chimes, I remember him and I feel his friendship still. I’m glad we were neighbors as well as friends.

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