Saturday, August 4, 2012


Life sure is funny.  Is there free will or are we all fated to follow a story line?  Researching my family tree has left me fascinated by how all the things that had to happen to make our family tree fall into place.  Ancestors had to survive wars, famines, pestilence, etc at least long enough to procreate.  They had to find a safe place to live.  They had to find some way of making a living.  And most critically they had to find a mate.  A lot of decisions were made by our ancestors and the people around them.

How I met my wife is probably not all  that remarkable, but as I reflect on it millions of different things had to happen in a very particular sequence even before I was born.

I was born in Oshawa and for my last two years of high school studied in Haliburton where my father had a trucking license.  While there a recruiter from the University of Guelph spoke at an assembly. His speech so impressed me that even though accepted at another university chosen by my closest friends I opted for Guelph.  Obviously a lot of ups and downs, but that decision set me up for what happened later on.

After university I took six months to get my first job and it lasted roughly six months.  Then another six months of unemployment.  While out of work I stayed mostly at my parents home in Haliburton, but left on frequent trips to search for a job and keep up with my friends.  On my second job, after a long process I assumed I would be working in Toronto where I really had no friends or connections. But it turned out the company had a last minute vacancy in Hamilton and thought since I had no attachments I would be interested.

I actually had a long history of not wanting to go to Hamilton, but perhaps if it was good for the company it might be good for me.  Pat, one of my sisters lived in nearby Burlington and offered to help me out.  Eventually she and her husband offered to board me in their apartment.  That worked out fairly well.

The job entailed working most Saturdays, but on this one particular Saturday I decided to work only half a day.  It was special as it was my birthday.  A small way of celebrating was to watch a basketball game with my alma mater, the University of Guelph playing at 2 pm.  I got home about 1 pm and checked out the usually reliable tv.  However for some reason it wasn't working.  This was the highlight of my birthday so I was furious.  I decided since Guelph was only about 40 minutes away that I would just go and watch it live.  I am not usually this impulsive.

I got there a little after 2, but was surprised to see that the basketball gym was relatively empty.  The game had been played the night before and had been taped to fit the television schedule.  I decided to look up some of my friends. The first friend contacted was busy with school work, so then went to another friend and got into a conversation with him and his new girl friend.

The new girl friend asked where I lived and when I said Burlington she started laughing.  She was from Burlington and had an awkward problem.  She had invited over a friend for the night and had promised her a blind date.  She had lined up a fellow, but on the Friday night he had met someone new and didn't want to honor his part of the deal.  My arrival must have seemed fortuitous.

Not sure what I was getting into, but agreed to the substitution.  I remember almost exactly where I met Sharon Olynyk as the drop off point was near where I used to get my hair cut, (Highway 6 and College).  The date was bowling and I lost.  Nevertheless we hit it off pretty good and I agreed to drive her back to Burlington the next day.  This meeting turned out to be my best birthday present ever.

The next day I met her parents, Boris and Florence (born DeMille) Olynyk, my future in-laws.  I didn't stay for supper, but had been asked.  Another week and I was put to the test.  My future father in law put out some hot peppers that I think were even hot for him and asked me to try one.  I passed the test and I came to like the hot peppers and a whole range of Italian and Ukrainian foods.

One of our first dates was to watch the McMaster basketball team and I was able to drag her to a few other games over the years, but she has become a Toronto Blue Jay fan.

It is important for all young people to realize that you are not just marrying a person you are marrying a family and a network of friends.  It seemed like a weird set of circumstances led to a very fortunate outcome.  Maybe it was fate or maybe it just illustrates you should keep moving forward no matter how many twists and turns you encounter in life.

The couple that introduced us eventually got married and later divorced.

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