This is the last in my annual genealogy coincidence series. It was July 18, my maternal grandmother’s 123rd birthday. My family and I decided to go to the DeKalb County Fairgrounds to enjoy an evening concert given by the 38th Infantry Division Band from Indianapolis. One of my family members who attended is an Indiana Medical Guard.
I was a tad late in arriving as one of my book clubs happened to have been meeting immediately before the concert. Two of our local book clubs are held off-site from the library; one is at a microbrewery and the other at a vineyard. I typically don’t drink alcohol when I attend but driving through the vineyard to get to the group meeting site, I decided, in honor of my grandmother’s family vineyard that I had visited in Croatia earlier in the year and her birthday, I’d get a chardonnay.
After the book discussion ended I hurried on to the fairgrounds. The National Anthem was playing as I located my family. Hubby had brought me a sub sandwich and I devoured it while the brass quintet and then the big band played. Our outdoor theatre hosts many events throughout the summer and always has snacks to purchase with donations going to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Hubby wanted popcorn so he left us to get some. He arrived back as the big band began playing Back Home Again In Indiana, a fitting number as our family had relocated back to where our pioneer ancestors had settled in the 1820s and 30s.
The conductor mentioned that the solo performer would be SSG Ewigleben. I almost fell out of my chair! My favorite teacher was my kindergarten teacher, Bethel Ewigleben Mattingly. We remained connected until her death. She sometimes would call me when long distance was still a thing and leave a voice message on my answering machine to call her back. She’d always say she hoped I was being a good girl. My husband kidded me for years about those messages. I somehow knew she wasn’t going to leave many more voice messages in the future and luckily, I saved the last message. It’s still wonderful to hear her voice.
I have no idea if the Staff Sergeant is related to my kindergarten teacher but it did make me tear up to hear a song so appropriate to my family situation soloed by someone with the same unique name as my first and most favorite teacher in Indiana.
But of course, the way my coincidences roll, that wasn’t the end of it. The big band took a break while the concert band could set up. During the intermission, the first song they played was Almost Heaven, West Virginia. My family member who is in the Guard had done residency in Morgantown and our Duers had lived nearby when the area was still called Virginia. Weird!
Music often helps remind us of memorable past events, though on that beautiful summer night as the fireflies twinkled in the cool breeze, my thoughts turned instead to those departed family members, some of whom I never met. Without their choices, I likely wouldn’t have led the life I lead. I’m forever indebted to them and glad that they had once decided to make Indiana their home.