Lost and Found

My mother used to say I’d lose my head if it weren’t screwed on tight enough. I guess that means that I frequently misplaced things as a child, although I don’t have any recollection of that  fact.

My experience has been that usually, things are not themselves “lost”; they are simply in a different place than where we think they ought to be. I am finding that with age, I am growing into my mother’s perception of a scatter brain. “Lost” things are turning up in more and more peculiar places. Cereal in the refrigerator and milk in the cupboard kinds of places.

I have observed over the years that the harder I look for a lost treasure, the further missing it goes. All the fretting and scurrying about to locate a thing that does not want to be found is quite non-productive. The better approach seems to quietly retrace ones steps, visually reconstructing the day’s activities. This coupled with prayer is a lot less taxing and much more useful in the end.

One of my most precious treasures was my great grandmother’s wedding ring given to me by my beloved grandmother in my early teens. The stunning silver and turquoise heirloom was much to small for even my thin fingers, so it took its place on my pinky from the start. My little finger was broken several times in my childhood and is quite crooked, and curls inward toward my palm, a nice feature for the safety of a ring that was just lose enough to turn freely and always felt as though it was about to become airborne. I inherited my father’s trait of talking with my hands and the more animated I become in a conversation, the more wildly more hands flail about. Occasionally the ring would launch clear across the room in the middle of such a conversation, and a few times it did so without my noticing.

The first time was just a few years after I received it. The decorating committee of a St. Valentine’s Day dance held in an high school auditorium thought a foot of shredded newspaper on the floor was somehow appropriate. The room was dark, and all that shredded paper made it a very bad place to lose a ring. I remember not being too keen on being there to begin with and was feeling conspicuously single at a dance meant for couples. It wasn’t long before that and my shyness got the best of me. I was making an early departure when I noticed that the ring was no longer on my finger.

Devastated, I frantically began telling everyone that would listen about the loss and asked them to keep an eye out for my ring. I eventually realized the futility of looking for it and went home.

I spent the weekend resigning myself to the fact that I may not see my precious ring again.

On Monday morning, I was barely listening to the announcements over the loud speaker, that is until I heard my name. I am not fond of having attention drawn to myself and always tried to keep a low profile. While I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, a summons to the office was not a welcome way to start the week. I left the classroom as unobtrusively as possible and hurriedly made my way to the office. Thankfully it was the school secretary that I encountered once there. She was a warm and welcoming spirit and much less intimidating than the principal. I began to try to compose myself and was perhaps only listening to about half what was being said. And then I saw it, a silvery glint in the secretaries outstretched hand. It was my ring, found by a young man who had attended the Friday night soiree and when home, discovered my ring in his cowboy boot. Somehow it had filtered up out of all that shredded paper and wound up in his boot. If that was not miraculous enough, he was also an honest boy who had been paying attention, remembered that some girl had lost her ring, and brought the ring to the office before school began Monday morning. I don’t think the secretary told me the boy’s name, but as I slipped it onto my crooked little finger, I counted my blessings.

I wish I could say the ring stayed put forever after on my hand, but I did after all have a legacy to live up to. My mother’s insinuation that my head was precariously perched and in danger of being lost.