Dear Readers:  Due to the content of this particular post, the names and locations of the participants have been changed to protect the “innocent.” 

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Penelope.  She was the 4th of five children, with the youngest being two years younger, and the elder siblings being 10, 15 and 18 years older than our heroine.  As a result of the large age gaps between the children, two of the elder children had – upon reaching adulthood – married and moved approximately 1,000 miles away in opposite directions from their childhood home, leaving behind the eldest brother, the youngest brother and Penelope.  It’s not surprising, therefore, that these five children seldom saw each other, so when they were in the same room it was always a momentous occasion.

Shortly after Penelope’s 17th birthday, the patriarch of the family – the loving father to these five children –  was admitted to the hospital for triple bypass surgery.  Predictably, the two siblings who’d left home returned immediately to be by their father’s side and support their mother and siblings through the emotional stress of the surgery.  Because of the age gap between the siblings, it was the first time in more than a decade – maybe even ever –  that all five children had been in the same room at the same time.  Nothing good could come from this.

On the day of their father’s surgery, emotions were running high.  The middle brother, being very sensitive and empathetic to the emotions of others, had great difficulty with the whole situation and was quite withdrawn as he took everything in and tried to come to terms with his own difficult feelings.  The oldest brother on the other hand – though he tried his best to behave – was a jokester and could find humor in every situation.  On this particular occasion, our jokester was doing a remarkable job of maintaining an air of dignity and respect as required by the situation.  The youngest brother was, at 14, a brat and took every opportunity to aggravate our young Penelope, while the oldest sister did her best to maintain control of these two younger siblings and preserve peace and harmony amongst the five.

The children’s father had been in surgery for several hours, when the doctor returned to the waiting room to inform the family that all had gone well.  He explained that their father would be in recovery for a couple  of hours and then would be able to see visitors for only short periods of time.  He suggested to the family that they go have some lunch and then return in a few hours.  The two oldest boys headed off together to who-knows-where, while the oldest sister took Penelope and the youngest brother with her to find some lunch across the street.

As the oldest sister and two youngest siblings returned from lunch, they chose to enter through a new wing of the hospital which was still partially under construction.  Walking through this particular entrance would take pedestrians down a long hallway encased on all sides with glass, overlooking an arbor on the other side of the glass with trees, benches and beautiful gardens.  The arbor was neither inside nor outside.  While it was on the outside of the main glassed-in hallway, it was still on the interior of the main building, presumably crafted to provide an area of peace and tranquility for those waiting for their loved ones, while still protecting them from the outside elements.  As Penelope and her siblings slowly meandered back to their father’s hospital room – very likely arguing each step of the way – they heard a tiny sound hit the glass window to their left.

PING!  

Sitting on a bench in the arbor outside the glass walkway were the two oldest brothers.  It seems that the middle brother had sought a peaceful location to collect his thoughts and the oldest brother (the jokester) had gone along to keep him company.  The brothers had seen their siblings approach and the middle brother had attempted to get their attention by picking up a very tiny, pea-sized pebble and tossing it at the great window.  No larger than a kernel of corn, that tiny pebble barely tapped the glass window making a sound so soft that the siblings in the hallway would likely not have heard it except that they had spotted the two older brothers just seconds before the pebble hit the glass.

PING!

Penelope and her two siblings stopped for a moment to wave at the older brothers sitting out in the arbor, and had perhaps intended to have a quick (but muffled) conversation through the glass, when about five heartbeats later they were startled by a terrifying sound.

CRACK!

Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, the large “shatterproof” glass window to the left of the three siblings standing in the glass-covered walkway “crinkled and cracked” into a spiderweb of a gazillion tiny pieces.  Sitting on the bench, the oldest brother (the joker) dissolved into an uncontrollable fit of laughter .  The middle brother (the sensitive one), not sure if it was the pebble hitting the window or just God laughing at him, put his head in his hands and sobbed.  Meanwhile,  the remaining three siblings (the smart ones) – not knowing for sure what happened but knowing they didn’t want to stick around and get caught in the middle of whatever it was – scattered like mice in different directions to the nether regions of the hospital.  It was hours before any one of them was located again.

To this day, the five siblings are unable to agree on precisely what caused that window to shatter.  Surely it wasn’t that pea-sized pebble that caused so much destruction!  Perhaps the window was simply defective and it had nothing to do with any of them and they just happened to be at the right place at the right time.  Could it possibly be that a tiny butterfly sneezed in Great Britain, thus creating a chaos effect?  Or maybe, just maybe, God really was laughing at the middle brother.

It seems that they will never know.  What they do know, however, is this:  If bad luck were money, that middle brother would be a rich man.