This morning I woke up, and lounged around in my pajamas watching television. I came across the tail-end of a program on the Titanic, not really thinking much of it. I’ve always been interested in the sinking of the ship in 1912, though (I confess) in recent years I’ve been rather caught up in the ‘Never Let Go’ Jack/ Rose aspect of it.
In the past months, however, I’ve once again become fascinated by the history books that enthralled me as a kid, and was absolutely engrossed in the program. It showcased two of my favorite places; Portsmouth, in England, and Halifax, NS. I’ve actually been to the Titanic exhibit and graveyard in Nova Scotia!
Anyway, my mum and gran came over and we talked awhile. The plan WAS to go to the new James Franco movie, but the Titanic exhibit in the city seemed a bit more interesting. (Later we found out that yesterday was the 99th anniversary coincidence #1)
A few hours later, we were sitting in the car with Starbucks in hand, speeding down the highway towards the science centre.
The exhibit itself was breathtaking. It’s so easy to regard disasters such as this as series’ of statistics, rather than events in human history. Seeing artifacts sitting there in front of you, tangible and REAL, is so powerful. Like 90 years below the surface of the ocean couldn’t keep their voices from being heard. There was everything from half-full bottles of champagne, to a perfectly preserved bowler hat. There were pieces of paper with legible writing still intact. The actual size of the ship, and the enormity of the disaster is difficult to comprehend, but seeing things from the eyes of a titanic passenger almost a hundred years ago certainly helped.
Upon entering the exhibit, we were handed replica boarding passes (mine is posted below). Each one carried the name of someone who actually boarded the Titanic in April of 1912. My passenger was a young newly- wed by the name of Helen Walton- Bishop. 19 years old, pregnant, and returning from a fabulous honeymoon touring around Egypt and Europe. She was a first class passenger, accompanied by her husband, Dickinson, her dog, Freu Freu, and over 10,000$ in jewelry.
Helen and her husband survived, though her dog, and countless others did not. They found themselves in lifeboat #7, and eventually reunited with Helen’s parents in New York. Helen’s baby was born December of that year, and lived for only two days.
While in Egypt, Helen visited a psychic, who told her that she would survive both the sinking of a ship, and an earthquake, but die in a car accident.
Just after the premature death of their son, the Bishops survived an earthquake in california.
In November of 1913, tragedy struck again. The Bishops found themselves in a horrible car accident.
I’ve only managed to find a few webpages with information on Helen Bishop. Helen died in 1916, at the age of twenty-four. She had divorced her husband by then. One of the web pages states that she “fell [ill], which aggravated her injuries from the accident”, which caused her death, and another states cause of death as “Jacksonian Epilepsy” (coincidence #2).
Jacksonian Epilepsy affects different parts of the brain than most forms of epilepsy, often expressed in small, uninvolved movements such as numbness in the extremities, and sudden head movements.
Why is this a coincidence?
Out of over 2200 passengers abourd the SS Titanic, I was given the boarding pass of a teenage girl who suffered from epilepsy.
I have a very mild form of epilepsy, and am only two years younger than Helen was ninety-nine years ago when she ascended the grand staircase in the fantastic and “unsinkable” Titanic.
Like my friend David said- there are no coincidences. Maybe he’s right.
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