A chance meeting on a street that leads to marriage. A Mega Millions lottery ticket that opens up a new relationship with the IRS. Or, missing a plane that ends up cratering into a mountainside in the Urals. There are moments in time, serendipitous events; unpredictable happenings that make us feel there must have been a plan . Of course, many more mundane events don’t even draw notice. But even here, moments of convergence and serendipity merge as various elements come into confluence.

Recently we had the pleasure of a visit from our youngest daughter and her family. The requirements of traveling with a dog, two young children and all the paraphernalia that involves has changed radically from our Iowa days in the Volare station wagon.

Somehow, we used to stuff a porta-crib, diaper bags, dog food, luggage, toys and a black Lab into that grey marvel. It helped that the dog hated road trips and used to burrow under the driver’s seat, goosing me at inconvenient times. There were frequent stops. Trips that should have taken four hours ended up being five and a half.

Modern families have other requirements. Federal mandates require car seats for kids. No more roaming around playing on blankets in the back of a car. This is not a bad thing, but the technologies that keep a kid safer in a vehicle necessitate more room, which equals less space for other stuff.

Their Lab Scout, unlike our long gone dog Doc, thinks it’s a Yorkie. If there is a lap available somewhere, its fair game. Thus the need for a sturdy kennel to keep overwhelming expressions of affection under control. That doesn’t cut down on plaintive cries of abandonment from the back of the Suburban, but that’s what radios are for, right? A good dose of rock-n-roll or country drowns out the mourning and has the advantage of introducing the kids to some quality music.

Memory is short, especially in someone of advancing years, but I am amazed at the efficiency at which these two young parents pack and unpack. It always seemed we had to leave something behind or find more room in the spare tire wheel well.

On a recent holiday visit, after things settled down – that doesn’t really happen – grandpa was fixing pancakes in the kitchen. Then for three brief minutes, the stars aligned, the world fell apart, and there was a convergence!

As I flipped the first pancake, I happened to look out on the front porch to see the dog doing things to the recliner that should be reserved for “private” moments, then the two year-old came out to the kitchen, stood next to me legs akimbo, looked up with wide-eyed surprise and said, “Whoa!”

I yelled for his father, who came rushing in to sweep him up for maintenance. At the same time, the little darling in the dining room, not happy with her recent ration, made her discontent known. The kid has a good set of lungs. You think Mariah Cary can hit high notes? Forget it – sensory overload.

I lost it. Between the dog, the smell of pancakes, the smell of – – hmmm – and the diva in the dining room, I bent over crying – not in sorrow – it was a divine cluster, a serendipitous moment, that only being part of a family brings.

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