After the First World War, my maternal grandparents were going to go to Australia. There were very few jobs available in my grandfather's trade - he was a printer. My mother was a baby. They had booked their passage, made various arrangements - and then my grandfather's mother, who was a widow, begged them not to go. Though she'd had lots of children, several had died in infancy, one son had been killed in the war and the two others were unmarried. Therefore my mother was her only grandchild. So my grandfather said that if he could find a job in Edinburgh, they'd stay. And he did. If he hadn't, I certainly wouldn't exist.
Some years later, they moved to a new house. My mother met a girl at school who suggested that Mum should go with her to Guides at a church about a mile away from the house - which was not the nearest church. So this happened, and my mother became very friendly with a girl named Jean, and a long time later - after World War 2 - my mother and Jean's brother got married. If my mum hadn't had this conversation with the girl at school - who wasn't a particular friend - my parents would probably never have met.
Jean was my (latterly confused) aunt and her brother was my dad.
Why did my father's parents live near this church? Well, when they lived previously in a flat in town, my other aunt fell and broke her arm. My grandfather, her father, decided that swimming would strengthen the arm, so they moved down beside the sea, where there was a swimming pool on the promenade. If my aunt hadn't broken her arm... .
During the war, my dad was in bomb disposal. If a bomb had gone off while he was defusing it - and it might well have done so, especially the new one that no one knew how to defuse - well... . He defused it successfully and was awarded the George Medal. Glad you didn't have shaky hands, Dad.
Meanwhile, again before their marriage, Mum was working in London, during the Blitz. I wouldn't be sitting here nearly at the end of NaBloPoMo if a bomb had landed on her.
Years later, my parents put in offers for various houses which they didn't get. Then they bought one in which they were to live for over 30 years, including my growing-up time. The one they bought, unlike those they'd hoped to buy, was in that same area near the sea. So we continued going to the same church. Some years later, Mr Life's parents started attending it also. They didn't live near this church at all, but in the small town adjoining this seaside district. An acquaintance had recommended our minister.
So if my parents had been successful in their bid for an earlier house or if Mr Life's parents hadn't had that conversation with their acquaintance.... none of our children would exist.
And if Daughter 1's Latin teacher hadn't suggested that she apply for the specific Oxford college that she, the Latin teacher, had attended, Daughter 1 wouldn't have met Son-in-Law 1 on the first day there, and then where would Grandson be?
And all of our lives are governed by these twists and turns: roads taken or not taken.