This is a day late, but I don’t want to wait until next Tuesday for this story.
I usually do the crossword puzzle in the New York Times on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday it gets harder, also on Friday, and Saturday you have to think like Will Shortz, puzzle editor, to have even a chance.
So last Thursday, January 5, I was doing unusually well, I thought, even figuring out some answers by the letters that appeared in crossing words without having the foggiest idea how “?they related to the clues. “Versatile worker” was “of all trades”? “Putdown of an ignorant person” was “you don’t know”? I had the answers, but I didn’t know why.
A few days later a friend called to say she wondered if whoever made the puzzle had known Jack or that January 5 was the first anniversary of his death – obviously, those puzzle answers made sense because they were “missing Jack.”
Indeed. The puzzle creator’s name was unknown to me, but I didn’t know everyone Jack had known. So Monday I wrote a letter to the Times, laying out the facts, and asking whether the creator knew Jack or was this a cosmic coincidence?
On Tuesday I had an e-mail from the puzzle maker. No, he did not know Jack, and the puzzles are created months in advance. But he had his own “cosmic coincidence” to relate. His father had died just about a year ago, at home, and the puzzle maker found a bird’s feather on the floor by his father’s bed, with no idea how it got there. He picked it up and put it on his father’s coffin at the cemetery. About a week later, he found a nearly identical feather at his own home.