A 25-plus-year-old photo of my dad. The woman is a high school girlfriend who moved away many years ago.

I was a pretty deep thinker as a kid. When my mom and grandparents took me to Disney World shortly after my fourth birthday, one of the first rides I went on was entitled It’s a Small World. (I was sadly a few inches short of the Space Mountain quota.) If you haven’t been on the ride, it’s essentially a gentle float trip through a series of scenes depicting people from various countries all singing the same song about how the world isn’t as big as it seems.

Anyway, the deep thinker in me emerged from the ride conflicted. Were the little Scandinavian and African robots truly suggesting that the earth was something other than enormous? After all, I had just taken a multi-hour plane ride from Kansas to Orlando, and I was pretty sure we hadn’t circumnavigated the globe.

As years went by, I came to better understand the true sentiment of the song and the underlying message behind the ride. Although the world is a vast place, there are common experiences (the sun, the moon, joy and sorrow) that all people share. However, the phrase “it’s a small world” took on an altogether new meaning for me today when my uncle shared a story with me.

Apparently, my 13-year-old cousin has a thing for garage sales. This afternoon, he was rummaging through sale items in a stranger’s garage when an old Polaroid camera caught his eye. He handed over a dollar and took it home. Things got interesting when he opened the film cartridge and found a picture that looked to be decades old. When my cousin showed the photo to my grandmother, she immediately recognized the man in the photograph as her second son — and my dad — Scott.

My dad died in a car accident shortly before my fourth birthday 23 years ago. In fact, I’m pretty sure his death is what prompted my grandparents to take me and my mom to Disney World.

My 13-year-old cousin never knew my dad, and most of what I know of him comes through stories and pictures. Who would have thought that a $1 camera at a random garage sale would give me a chance to reconnect with my father and would give my cousin a link to a man he’d never met?

It’s a small world after all.


One Response to A Polaroid from the past

  1. Shelby Sternberg says:

    What a small world it is! This was a great short story about how mysterious the world can be. Good job, Dayne! I know that when I came to Mizzou I began to realize how small a world it truly was when meeting new people. Being from St. Louis certainly helped me to have a plethora of similarities with people but unexpected connections continue to pop up all the time!

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