Saturday, November 8, 2008


Friday afternoon I took the copy edit of By Hook or Crook to FedEx and let out a sigh of relief. The manuscript would get to my editor right on time. Afterwards I was trying to decide which Trader Joe’s to go to. Should I pick the closest, but possibly get stuck in after school traffic, or go to the further one which has lots and lots of parking and no school buses involved?

The far away one won.

While I was wandering the store, I saw a familiar face. A woman who used to take indoor cycling with me and who I hadn’t seen for a long time. We said hello and shared a few gym comments and then went on shopping.

We were in the produce department and my only excuse is that as a vegetarian I get very excited about heirloom tomatoes and bags with three different colored potatoes. It was only when I passed her again that my vegetable induced brain fog cleared and I remembered. Pam is a celebrant. In case you don’t know what that means – she presides over funerals. Maybe presides is the wrong word. Maybe handles funerals is a better word. The point is she makes the service very personal. No template where you just fill in the names and dates. She had told me about it during our shared cycling classes. I liked the title celebrant and it stuck with me. When I wrote a funeral scene in Hooked on Murder I mentioned the family had gotten the A list celebrant, while actually picturing Pam. But by then Pam wasn’t coming to the gym anymore, so I never got a chance to tell her. Until today.

When I passed her in front of the dairy case, I told her about a celebrant being in the book and gave her a bookmark from the supply I conveniently always have in my purse. She was surprised and happy with the news. I realized she didn’t even know I was a writer. That’s the thing about the gym – we’re all in tee shirts and stretching pants and barely know each others names let alone what anybody does outside of the gym. She gave me her card and said she’d like to write something about my book for a newsletter she writes for. We’re going to keep in touch.

If I’d gone to the other Trader Joe’s none of that would have happened.


Camille Minichino said...

Wonderful story, Betty.
It's the kind of serendipity that's hard to put in a book without sounding contrived. Real life is so much more "coincidental!"

Betty Hechtman said...

Camille: You're right. It's not about what really happened, but making it believable.

Linda O. Johnston said...

It's fun when serendipity just seems to happen, Betty!

Barbara Bush said...

Serendity? Perhaps. But I don't believe in coincidence. When the unexpected happens, I see it as a "God-thing". You reconnected with someone who had brought something into your life. What a blessing! (And fun too!)

sexy said...