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A Simple Touch of Fate

By Lauren Smith | October 25, 2007

An interview with one of the authors, Arlene Uslander….

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Lauren Smith: Why did you write this collection of short stories?

Arlene Uslander: I (Arlene) edited a book for a young man who told me about how he would have died if not for the fact that his sister, who had a job that kept her away from home on weekends, had a strong premonition that she should drive home one Saturday night. She found her brother unconscious, rushed him to the hospital, and doctors said that if not for her going home that night, he would have died. I then began thinking about experiences in my own life that would have turned out very differently if not for the intervention of Fate or some Higher Power. And, I realized that there must be thousands of stories out there about the profound effect Fate has on people’s lives. I decided to compile an anthology of Fate stories, including some of my own, and when Brenda Warneka became my co-editor, she wrote about some of her own experiences with Fate. In fact, her story, “Fate on the Fly,” which was about how her husband missed being involved in one of the worst air disasters in history, because of the 50th anniversary party of friends, was the very first submission I received.

Lauren Smith: Why do you think the topic of “fate” is so interesting to so many people?

Arlene Uslander: Because it is something very mysterious, an unknown, causing one to wonder: Was that just a random coincidence or was it meant to be? For example, in another story in the book, “Honor Courage and Commitment”; Saving Jack Roush,” A a small plane is in trouble, just happens to hit near the home of an ex-marine, specifically trained “to save a pilot in an upside-down plane from a watery grave.” The question as to whether this was simply a random coincidence, or whether some kind of pre-determination (Fate, or a Higher Power) was responsible for the amazing rescue of NASCAR’s Jack Roush by the ex-marine is certainly open to debate. Many people, including us, the co-editors, could ponder this question indefinitely. Fate is a fascinating topic.

Lauren Smith: Can you share one story from your book that really exemplifies what your book is about?

Arlene Uslander: Yes. Here is a story that gave us goose bumps, but it is absolutely true.

Mother’s Voice
By Garnet Hunt White

I grew up “on the fence,” as we say in the Missouri Ozarks. Some people believe in extrasensory perception. Others dismiss it with bemused tolerance or persecution.
Many families in my community still believe in haunted houses and “bright, round moving objects high up in the sky.” Most look upon these people as “odd.” I wonder, are they?

My father was a farmer who traveled around investing in livestock and real estate. Many times, I heard him say that his subconscious, or intuition, often warned him not to travel, or told him to buy or sell, or not to buy or sell, something, and the advice turned out to be right.

Are we so set in our ways that we can’t understand or accept anything except what can be seen by the naked eye, or recorded on tape by the human voice?
I had an experience that will always be a wonderment to me.

My mother had a stroke and could not talk. My father kept her at home and had nurses with her round the clock. He also hired a speech teacher to work with her. My husband, Glenn, and I lived 100 miles to the east of my parents’ house. Three times a week, after the school bell rang at 3:00 p.m., I left my classroom and drove to Doniphan, Missouri, to be with Mother, and try to keep up her morale.

Teaching school and traveling 100 miles to my parents’ home, and then driving the 100 miles back to our home in Cape Girardeau, meant that I was always short of sleep.

One evening in May, 1983, I bid Mother goodbye, hugged my father, then headed the car for Cape Girardeau to meet Glenn.

I had been on the road about an hour. Suddenly, Mother yelled, “Garnet!” I awoke. The car was headed straight for a bridge rail and pillar. I slammed on the brakes and swerved the car away from the railing. I stopped. My hands shook on the steering wheel. My feet trembled on the floorboard. Shivering from head to foot, every organ inside me yo yoed up and down. I stayed parked for what seemed like an eternity.
Where did Mother’s voice come from? It had been in the car. How did Mother know I had gone to sleep? I had left my parents’ home an hour before.

Was I hearing Mother’s voice from my subconscious mind? How come Mother yelled at me just as my car was heading for the bridge? I didn’t know! I had fallen asleep; Mother’s voice had awakened me. I was scared; frightened that I had almost hit the bridge, and shocked at hearing Mother’s voice.

When I got home, I telephoned my father. The first thing he said was, “Your mother spoke. She called ‘Garnet’ and sat up in bed.You had been gone about an hour.”
That was right around the time I almost hit the bridge!

Through chattering teeth, I told my father about falling asleep while driving, and how Mother’s crying out had probably saved my life. Father told me he had had many experiences in his life when some unknown power had warned him of danger. He told me about some of the incidents, and that began to calm me, but I still had not regained my composure. I asked my father to tell Mother that I heard her call my name.

When I got home, I told Glenn about hearing Mother’s voice and said, “You probably don’t believe me.”

“Garnet, I believe you,” he said. “I could tell you of many incidents during World War II when the men in my squadron heard unknown voices or felt an unknown power. The reason I’ve never mentioned these things before is because many people aren’t ready to hear about extrasensory powers.”

My talk with Glenn helped relieve some of my tension. I didn’t fully comprehend how I had heard Mother speak. From the time she had her stroke, until she died 15 months later, my name, on that near fatal day, was the only word or time anyone heard her speak.

A Fate beyond my control decided what was to happen to me that day. After that, I was humble when I heard people speak about “strange” happenings in their lives. This occasion made me give credence to guardian angels and heavenly spirits.
I was in danger; Mother’s voice saved me.
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Lauren Smith: How tough was it to gather these stories?

Arlene Uslander: It wasn’t easy! We spent several years soliciting true, inspirational stories about how being at the right place at the right time, or not being at the wrong place at the wrong time, had a profound effect on someone’s life. Some people ignored the guidelines, making up stories, or writing stories that had very little, if anything, to do with Fate.

Lauren Smith: Did you find that many people have different views of what fate is? Why do you think that is?

Arlene Uslander: Yes, people do have different views of what Fate is. Some of our readers tell us that Fate is really a Higher Power that orchestrates our lives. Still others are of the opinion that we make our own Fate or Destiny. How people feel about Fate has a lot to do with their religious (or non-religious) beliefs. But one thing we have found is that there is never a group of people who all feel that same way about what Fate is which makes for lively discussions.

Lauren Smith: What do you hope your book does and what do you hope your reader gets from this book?

Arlene Uslander: One of the things we hope people will take away from this book is reassurance of how often things go right when they could have gone wrong. And, how often there is no explanation for the interplay of events that exist to make whatever happens happen, except Fate or a Higher Power. Of course, the stories often involve matters of life and death, and the good is inextricably interwoven with the bad, but living life successfully requires that we be philosophical and dwell on the positive aspects of things that happen. We hope readers will identify with that. A central theme that comes through to in many of the stories in The Simple Touch of Fate is the survival of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Many of the stories are bitter-sweet. In “The Train Not Taken,” for example, the writer, as a little girl, and her immediate family escape death in wartime Hungary due to a change of plans, but her uncle’s family, including her favorite cousin, did not change plans and died in the bombing of the train on which they were traveling. Another theme that we hope readers will be aware of is the willingness of people to risk their own lives to save others. This comes through clearly in the story, “Honor, Courage, and Commitment: Saving Jack Roush.”

Lauren Smith: Are there any other anthologies planned?

Arlene Uslander: Yes. We are hoping to have a second Fate anthology published in 2008.

Lauren Smith: How can the book be ordered?

Arlene Uslander: It can be purchased through our website: www.thefatesite.com, or on www.Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through brick and mortar bookstores. It can also be ordered through the publisher: 1-800-288-4677; International phone number: 00-1/402-323-7800.

Arlene Uslander of Glenview, Illinois, is the author of 14 non-fiction books, is an award-winning journalist, an essayist and professional editor.

Brenda Warneka, a lawyer with a private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, writes on legal topics, as well as travel and human interest articles.

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