Inexplicable Coincidence on a Hawaiian Beach

Two men were led to the same Hawaiian beach, where they made a startling, and wonderful, discovery.

by - Posted on May 5, 2011

“They were in the right place at the right time”… how often do we hear about the incredible ways two people’s lives intersect—resulting in extraordinary rescues, star-crossed romances or unexpected reunions?

An article I recently read in The Boston Globe showed me yet again that despite astronomical odds, the most wonderful connections are happening in our world everyday. In the tropical paradise of Hawaii, a family vacation and a surfing lesson led to an astonishing meeting between two men who shared a common bond…

Waikiki Beach wasn’t on their vacation itinerary, but Rick Hill, his fiancée, Maureen, and their three children—in Hawaii for a sunny week away from their Lunenburg, Massachusetts, home—decided to make a quick stop.

Joe Parker, who grew up in Leominster, Massachusetts, but moved to Hawaii years ago to escape a troubled past, wasn’t supposed to be on the beach that day, either. He was an event planner for a resort and was arranging a last-minute surfing lesson for a client.

Maureen was about to take a photo of Rick and the kids when Joe happened by. He kindly offered to take a picture of the entire family.

As Joe lined up the shot, he listened to the family speak to one another. Joe was certain he recognized their accent—a distinctive derivative of the Bostonian “pah-ked the cah in Hah-vahd yahd” drawl spoken in his old neighborhood.

Instead of saying, “Say cheese,” Joe smiled and said, “Say Leominster!”

Leominster was the next town over from Lunenburg. The family and Joe got to talking. A few names were thrown around. “You know a Dickie Halligan?” Joe asked.

“Know him? That’s my father!” Rick said.

Joe lowered his sunglasses and squinted at Rick, stunned. “He’s my father too.”

According to The Globe, Joe had grown up in foster care and had a painful childhood, running away from home at age 15. He had been told as a child that Dickie Halligan was his uncle. He only discovered the truth when he was 21, after responding to an ad Dickie had placed in the local paper searching for him.

Dickie revealed then that Joe had a half-brother. But Joe and Rick never met.

Until now, on a Hawaiian beach, 6,000 miles away from where they grew up.

Joe and Rick spent the rest of the week together. Joe turned 38 on Easter Sunday and celebrated with his long-lost family.

“We lost 38 years of each other, which is a shame,” Joe told The Globe. “But we are both grateful that this happened and that we get this chance in life to bond.”

What unlikely reunions have you been led to? Let us know in the comments below or by sending your story to [email protected].

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