Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Quantum Leap

Wow. I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted on here. Life gets so darn busy and before you know it months have passed.

I'm not sure how many of the people that will read this post remember the television show "Quantum Leap" which ran for a few years in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
In my opinion it was and still remains one of the best shows of all time.
It starred Scott Bakula as physicist Dr. Sam Beckett and was set a few years in the future.
While Sam was performing a time travel experiment something went wrong and he was lost in time.
Throughout the series Sam found himself "leaping" into other people's bodies in situations that took place in the past within Sam's lifetime.
With the leap into another person's body he temporarily took the place of these other people to "put right what once went wrong". 
Basically, he was dropped into a situation that would have a bad outcome and changed the course of events to change whatever it was that made it bad. 
It wasn't quite the time travel that he sought with his experiment but the result was much nobler.

How many of us have events in our lives that we wish we could just go back and change? Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. 
Perhaps not necessarily righting a wrong but just turning something in another direction to make the future turn out differently.

Don't get me wrong. I do not want to change anything in my life. Admittedly there are things that I could have done better or differently but I love where I am right now and the path my life has taken. 
I love the things that I do and who I do them with. 
I love my home and I love where it is.

But, there are a couple of "things" in my lifetime that I do regret.
Sadly, I can't leap back and change them. Not unless a Dr. Sam Beckett invents a machine that I can use to go back in time and change. Even then I likely would not want to.
However, if a chance ever comes to right what once went wrong I will do it.

I am very fortunate in that a couple of these have happened to me. Both involved some investigative work on my part. 
The first was rather minor and took place almost 15 years ago when I lived in Ontario. 

One day I was going through some boxes of things that I had in storage and I ran across a small stack of very old black and white hockey cards. 
As I looked through the cards it occurred to me that they were older than I was. How the heck did I get these? I couldn't have bought them. They were before my time.
A short while later it struck me. A boy that I had gone to public school with had lent them to me to look through and I never gave them back! I had stolen them from him! I don't know why he didn't ask for them back at that time but that didn't matter.
These cards were not mine. They must have belonged to his father or something.

I immediately went about trying to locate this guy again after 25 years. 
I ended up contacting people that I knew to find out how to contact other people that knew this guy. It was actually harder than you may think.
This was just before the days of Googling and web searching. I did it the old fashioned way.
In the end I did locate him. Fortunately, he lived within the Toronto area. I drove across the city and personally delivered the hockey cards to him. 
He was bewildered at the whole situation and did not remember giving me the cards. I remembered though and gave them to him with an apology that I had not given them back sooner.

This next one may not seem like a very serious event but was one that has stuck in my memory for over 40 years. It was something that my friend and I did to another boy. 
We didn't physically harm or verbally abuse him but we were mean to him. 
Most often I have a very bad memory for things but for some reason I remember this event so well that I can see it in my mind as clearly as the day it happened in the summer after we were in Grade 4.

About a month ago my son T and I were driving and talking about how rotten and mean kids can be to each other at times. It's a sad reality. I wish it wasn't but it is.
I told T the story of that time that I was mean to another kid. 
The boy moved away shortly after it happened and I never did get a chance to say sorry to him.

Then T asked "Did you look for him on Facebook?"
What the heck? I had not used Facebook, Google or Twitter to search for him. 
He had a name that was unique and I had never forgotten. His name is Ephraim S. (I'm not comfortable saying his whole name here so I will just use S for his last name.) 
I decided to do a Google search first. I clicked on the first result that came up. 
It was a web site for a company owned by Ephraim. As soon as I saw the picture of him I knew that this was him. Even 40 years later I could tell that this was him.

I decided to try reaching him through LinkedIn first and sent him a message. I asked if he was the same person who had gone to McNicoll Public School in Toronto all those years ago. 
He replied very promptly and said that he was and asked if we knew each other. 
I asked him to send me his email address so that I could write in detail and was happy that he did. 
If it was me I may not have.

Rather than write it all out again I will paste a copy of my email to Ephraim here. :

Hello again Ephriam.
This is going to seem like one of the strangest things you have ever read but I'll do it anyway. 
As I mentioned you and I were in McNicoll Public School together and I have thought about you many many times over the years since then.
The reason for that may sound a bit odd. 
Earlier this evening I was talking to one of my 14 year old twin sons about how mean kids can be to one other. I told T the story of something that I did to you. It has stuck in my mind all these years as something that I regretted doing at the moment that it happened but had not addressed. Until now.
It wasn't physical harm and was not verbal abuse but it was mean and I should not have done it.
Actually, it also involves another chap named Andy Heywood who was also our classmate. Andy passed away of cancer when we were in our early 20's.
I believe that this took place in the summer vacation between grades 3 and 4 but I'm not positive. It may have been a year prior or the year after. I think your family may have moved away shortly afterwards but I don't remember seeing you again. 
It was a very hot sunny day and Andy and I had decided to go and play in the schoolyard at McNicoll. They had recently cut the grass after a long spell and we were playing around in the huge piles of clippings.
We must have been jumping around a lot because I remember how hot and terribly thirsty I was. Andy was as well. 
We didn't have anything with us to drink and we lived a fair distance away. I don't know which one of us thought of it but we knew that you lived just across the road. We decided to go to your house and see you and you would likely have a drink for us. 
Your mother answered the door and called you. We went into your house. I think that we asked you if you wanted to come out and play with us and you agreed but had to get your shoes on. Before you did that we asked you if we could have a drink.
Most likely my mind exaggerates this but I remember that you gave us the biggest, coldest glasses of milk that I had ever had.
Andy and I finished our drinks and said that we would go outside and wait for you while you got ready.
For the life of me I will never understand why we did this but we took off across to the school yard and jumped behind a huge pile of grass clippings to hide from you.
The bizarre thing about it is that I remember that you and I were friends. I suppose we weren't best friends but pretty good school friends. Why the heck did we do that to you??    
It's funny. I have a lousy memory sometimes which drives my wife crazy but I still have the vivid memory of watching you coming out of your front door and looking for us for a minute or two before giving up and going back into your house. I remember the feeling of guilt that I had and thinking that we should go back and get you but we ended up going somewhere else to play.  
That event has stuck in my mind for all of these years and is one of the biggest regrets that I have from childhood. 
When you think of the horrendous terrible things that some kids do to others, I guess this is minor. But I think that at that moment we made a really nice kid who welcomed us into his house and gave us a fantastic glass of milk feel bad. And that was a lousy thing to do. 
If this type of thing happened to one of my kids it would break my heart. 
After I told the story to T and told him how badly I have always felt he asked if I had searched for you on Facebook to apologize to you. I don't know why I had not thought of that myself. I had not looked you up online.
As I expected, there are a very small number of guys with your name so finding you was quite easy with Google. When I saw your picture I could see the resemblance from all those years ago to the way you look now.  
So Ephriam, about 40 years later I really want to say sorry and that I wish that we did not do that to you.
If you have absolutely no memory whatsoever of this, that's good. 
If you do remember it at all, I hope that this message will possibly erase it a bit from your mind.
It is great to find you again anyway. I really enjoy running into folks from the past. I was looking for our class picture and was going to scan it but for some reason that one is missing from the collection.
If this is all a little too weird for you I understand completely. Lol.

Take care,

Ephraim replied to me the next day:

On 2012-10-19, at 5:03 PM, Ephraim wrote:
Hi Tim,

Wow, thanks for reaching out.  Big thanks to T, too.  You must be proud of your boys.

Tim, your name sounds familiar to me as does Andy Heywood's.  That said, I have no recollection of the event you've described.  The fact that you have struggled with it for so long — in that way we all hopelessly struggle with regrets, reliving events we can't change — saddens me.  But I get it; we've all got some of those.

Your email painted a picture for me opening up a flood of childhood memories from Canada.  You're right, we moved to South Florida after the completion of grade 4, during the summer of 1973.  I lived there until college when I moved up to the Northeastern US.  I've lived up here, ever since.  My memories of early life in Canada are those of a child.  I truly wonder what it was like from an adult perspective.  I've been to Toronto on business multiple times over the years, but not back to North York or McNicoll Avenue.  In fact, I forget: did we live at #158?  160?  I wonder if my mom ("mum", north of the border?) would remember.

Somehow, we survive our childhoods.  I remember Canada and McNicoll Avenue with such fondness.  That said — there's no denying it — we were odd birds, my family.  We moved there in the late 1960's from Israel.  There was no one around similar to us. I grew up feeling my foreignness.  My mom struggled living so far from her parents and siblings.  Man, I loved hockey.  I wanted to play little league ice hockey but that never happened.  I loved playing it in the street and driveways, though.  I liked to tend goal and my idol was Tony Esposito ("Espo") of the Blackhawks.  Ken Dryden was my nemesis.  My next door neighbor Greg (he was  a year behind us in school) and I played all the time. We had sweet, kind and welcoming neighbors all around us.  

What you said in your email is very meaningful to me. Not because I remember the incident, but more because it helps me access a part of my life.  I appreciate the warm spirit you and your son have shared my way.  I would like very much to stay in touch.

All the best,

I was not able to leap back into the past to erase that mean thing that we did to a kind-hearted boy on that summer day but I was given a chance to try and make it a bit better. 
I took a chance in making contact with him and he took a chance in replying and sending me his email address. 

Ephraim and I are indeed staying in touch. We have written each other a few times since then.
I am happy to say that we are new "old" friends. 

I think that our two lives are a little bit better now with another friend in them.

All it took was a leap of faith.

Stay well,


Lori Daniels said...

LOVE this story! I have one of those stories too and I hope and pray that she is living a contented life with someone who adores her. I may even try too find her ;o) Thanks Tim for sharing.

Rhonda said...

Holy Smokes this made me cry. I wish more people took the time to make right the mistakes they have made in the past. The world would be a much better place. I was on the receiving end of a painful experience at Zion and I've never forgot it. Very mean girl (I'm sure you knew her). I hope that it was just a bad moment for her but I think she did it to others too. I also know that people tend to hurt others when they themselves have been hurt. I hope she ended up being a happy adult because she sure didn't seem to be a happy child. You have such a good heart Tim. Thanks for sharing this.