A shocking encounter... I had my cage well and truly rattled this morning. As I was walking out of our local UPS storefront (where I had just dropped off a couple packages for shipment), a person came walking into the UPS store. That person looked like exactly like my dad did back in the early '90s. This wasn't just a passing resemblance: this fellow looked so much like my dad did that my gut reaction was that it was him. Since my dad died a few years ago, a much older man, this made no rational sense at all – but recognition is not a rational process.
I stopped dead in my tracks. I'm not sure what my face looked like, but the other fellow was concerned enough that he stopped to ask me if I was all right. That produced the second shock: he even sounded like my dad. Not exactly right, in this case, but quite close. The biggest disjoint was that he had a slight northern New Jersey accent, which my dad certainly did not.
The short version of our ensuing conversation is this: he's distantly related to me, on my father's side of the family. His last name is not the same as mine – but it's close, spelled as my ancestors did. His first name (Henry) is the same as that of the oldest American ancestor I have, an ancestor we share and who he is named after. He hails from East Orange, New Jersey, and is on his way back home after visiting family in Bend, Oregon. I don't have his permission to use his last name, so I won't do that yet. We exchanged contact information, and he's promised to correspond with me once he gets back home next week.
I'm still reeling from the few moments when I thought I saw my dad, returned somehow from the '90s...