On Friday night, my Mom, Ed, Brian and I were leaving the rides on the boardwalk for our walk home. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted white tents... and as I turned my head I realized they were lining the edge of the boardwalk as far as I could see. As we got closer - we realized it was an art show with each tent housing a different artist. I felt my heart leap - surely this would be where I would find the photo or painting of the pier where we scattered some of Gavin's ashes.
But... they were all closing up to go home.
I ran up to one of the artists and he told me they'd all be open again at 11am the next morning. My Mom and I couldn't wait to go back. It would be our last day there. What are the chances that there would be an art show that we would just happen upon RIGHT before we left Ocean City for home? I was sure it had to be a sign that I would find the perfect piece. I had looked in stores up and down the boardwalk and even online - I hadn't found anything that really spoke to me as of yet. It had to be "perfect" and I knew I know "the one" when I saw it.
The next morning we all got ready and headed up to walk from tent to tent. It didn't take long until I was drawn into a particular tent. There were incredible photographs and I just had a gut feeling that the gentleman would have one of the pier.
As I entered the tent, my eyes immediately went to a gorgeous photo of the pier. It took my breath away.
I knew that this was "it" - but I walked away to look at all the other artists just to be "sure." It didn't take long for me to head back - I had to have that print. The photographer was very nice and, as it turns out, lives not too far away from us! When I told him I wanted a larger size than he had in stock, he gave us his number and told us to call him - he'd ship it to our home. My Mom started chatting with the photographer and his wife and, ironically, they grew up in the same town. As they reminisced, I told my Mom to catch up to us - that we were going to keep strolling down the boardwalk. We walked away so happy to have found THE print.
A few minutes later, I saw my Mom coming towards us with rather frantic eyes. When she got to me, she grabbed my arm and said, "You're not going to believe this..."
She explained that she had been talking with the photographer's wife for a little bit and before she left to catch up to us she explained to her why we were so happy to find that photograph. The woman was very sympathetic, my Mom said - and then they went their separate ways.
As my Mom walked down the boardwalk towards us, she heard loud footsteps banging up behind her. Then - a tap, tap, tap on her shoulder. She turned to see the photographer, with tears in his eyes, and he said, "You're not going to believe this..."
He explained that just a couple weeks before they had been on the boardwalk for an art show just like this. A woman came into my tent and inquired about that very same photograph of the pier. The woman picked it up and explained to me that she wanted to buy it for a friend. Then, she proceeded to tell me the story about Gavin... your grandson. She even told me to go take a photo of the fire truck at Gillian's Wonderland Pier that was painted in honor of him. I was so moved by the whole thing that I handed this woman the print and said - "Please, just give it to the family."
My Mom could barely relay the story through her tears. Ed and I had to go back to talk to this man - and find out who the mystery person was that chose the exact same print for US!
When we got to him, he just shook his head. "You don't understand," he said - "that photo is one that's been in the back of the bin. For some reason, right before that show, I decided to put it on display." He opened up his computer to show me the mystery woman's name - and his notes that said "Take photo of fire truck at Gillians." The woman actually works at our local pharmacy... one that we frequented quite a bit for Gavin. They practically became family during the crisis with his corneal abrasion when he nearly lost his eye. It felt like we were in there every other day. She is also a reader of this blog and just the nicest person. I just couldn't believe it. Any of it.
I mean, really... what are the chances...
...We would happen upon the art show.
...It would be on our last day.
...That I would be drawn to his tent - and straight to the photograph.
...That just a couple weeks before someone else would be drawn to the same tent - to the same photograph - with Gavin and our family in mind.
...That the photographer would hear Gavin's story - and then meet us as we chose the same exact photograph.
It's beyond my comprehension. Gavin was so involved in this entire experience - I know it like I know my name.
Gary Donnelly, the photographer, was once again so moved by the whole experience that he insisted on gifting us not only the large print we originally intended to buy - but the photo he will be taking of the fire truck as well.
I wish that Mr. Donnelly had a Facebook page so I could have all of you flood it with likes and comments! He does have a website and if you click HERE you can see all of his beautiful photos of Ocean City... including the shot I fell in love with of "Gavin's pier."
All of us are still shaking our heads in disbelief.
Truly... nothing is by chance.