Lost and Found

All of us are so reliant on technology for directions when traveling anywhere, and there are now multiple avenues for helping us to find our way. New cars have built-in GPS devices, we can purchase a mobile GPS at any number of stores to install in our automobile, choose one of many mapping APPS on our cell phones, or  print out our directions on our home computer—a back-up in the event our travels lead us through a location with no cell service. It is so easy now.

Back in the dark ages of my youth, Grandpa would pick up a map at the local gas station (they were given out free at most) and plan a route. We’d all pile into the family truckster and off we’d go. Unfortunately, it was not uncommon for him to take a wrong turn. So like Dorothy looking for the Emerald City, he would eventually have no choice but to stop for directions—usually at a gas station along the way. I recall a trip to Bear Mountain Park in New York where Grandpa got lost so many times that we began keeping score. He was not amused!

Returning from a college visit in Connecticut, the fact that Grandpa was directionally challenged brought us to what appeared to be a parade route, with hundreds of people lining the White Plains street where his wrong turn had dumped us. We were stuck, so we pulled onto a side street and returned to the action. What could it be? If we had watched the news that morning, we would have known that President Nixon’s motorcade would be traversing the streets of lower Westchester County that afternoon as he tried to rustle up some last-minute votes before the November election. A point for Grandpa!

A few years later, I visited my friend Karen at her school in Syracuse, New York, armed with nothing but her directions and a few maps. There were no cell phones to help if I got lost or to phone home if I broke down or ran out of gas. After I pulled out of our driveway, I was on my own. I suppose Grandma worried a bit, but it’s just what you did. I don’t think she or I lost any sleep over that trip.

When I was a commuter at Montclair State College, I had some sort of car issue which left me stranded alongside the road somewhere between school and home. I was dating Dad at the time, so I pulled over, and after assessing the situation and determining that my car was truly dead, I knocked on a door and asked to make a phone call. I hadn’t invented the cell phone yet, and I was not up to the long trek home. Fortunately, the homeowners were not axe murderers, and a short time later, my white knight rode in on his horse to rescue me.

I know you all remember the trip to Memphis in 1995. You were young, just 10, 8, and 5. What was I thinking? I was brave and confident and dumb. I printed out many pages of maps—in triplicate—and colored in symbols along the way. Each time one of you asked, “Are we there yet?” I would reply that we were at the star or the triangle or the square on page 3 or 5 or 7. That gave each of you a feel for where we were on our journey and would shut you up for a while. Fortunately, I was armed with a cell phone, so after we passed the U.S. Capitol for at least the third time, we made a call to my friend Mitzie, who was able to set us back on the correct path to Oz.

The objective of my ramblings is to point out how much easier it is for you to get from point A to point B during your travels than it was years ago. The down side, I fear, is that this technology sometimes becomes a crutch. What would you do if you went on a road trip armed with only a map? I won’t remove the cell phone because telephone booths are obsolete. But no smart phones! Could you do it? Would you do it? I think I will suggest to Dad that we try it.

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We All Lose Things- Part II

I thought I would die a Jersey girl because as you all know, very few of our relatives ever leave the Garden State. But life is full of surprises and we eventually did leave the state.

Over a span of four years, we did a mini tour of the Southeast, beginning in North Carolina, moving on to Georgia, and finally settling in South Carolina where I became a South Carolina Gamecock fan. I now tailgate, try so very hard to win the family football pool, and even read the sports column. Girls, did you ever imagine I would evolve into this?

Our football stadium is quite large, with a seating capacity just north of 80,000. After one typically exciting afternoon at a game, I was walking across the adjacent fairgrounds when I became aware of that familiar, oh so awful sharpness on my left ring finger. I felt a pit in my stomach and knew I had to act quickly. When I told Dad that I had lost another diamond and had to go back and look for it, he looked at me like I was crazy. No, no, no, I was not a lunatic. I was confident. I had a proven track record regarding locating lost diamonds. And Dad did not argue, yell, or refuse to accompany me. That is why our marriage has survived since 1978. It takes patience and the ability to understand the quirkiness of one’s spouse for a marriage to endure. And laughter!

My plan was to go to the Lost and Found. After all, I reasoned, the news is filled with heartwarming stories involving honest people. However, walking into the stadium was like swimming against a strong current. No one was headed inside and no one knew where the Lost and Found was located.

Dad was being incredibly patient as I insisted that we push onward. After walking around aimlessly for quite a while, I knew he was ready to throw in the towel, but not me. I had faith, so I suggested we retrace our steps. The last place I had gone after leaving our seats was the bathroom. Was I crazy, or was I being logical?

What was there to lose, so we headed up the ramp to the restrooms? By this time, it had been at least thirty minutes since leaving the stadium, but I was relentless. This gift of being able to find lost diamonds was, I knew, part of my heritage.  Let me digress.

My great grandmother, Mina, also had the gift. While visiting a department store in New York City, she also lost the diamond from her ring. When she realized it was gone, she hunted and hunted for it with no success.

Mina was a very religious woman, so she left the store and went to a nearby church and prayed that she would locate the stone. She then returned to the store, and sure enough, her prayers had been answered. When she later discovered that the church was Episcopalian rather than Catholic, she commented that the denomination did not matter. God listened no matter what church you prayed in.

Back to my story. I returned to the bathroom and headed first to the sink where I had washed my hands. The room was empty by now, and I knew this was probably my last hope. I knew I had to look, but at the same time, I was afraid. Could I possibly be lucky a third time? Yes, I could, I reasoned, and I was correct. There, on the edge of the bowl of that sink of Williams Brice Stadium was my formerly lost diamond. Holy cow! I did it again. I was now three for three in locating lost diamonds, but this time, it had vanished in the biggest haystack yet! I grabbed the diamond, wrapped it ever so carefully in a tissue, and smugly exited the bathroom.

On the way back to the car, I told Dad we should buy a lottery ticket.

We All Lose Things- Part I

We all lose things, but one of my many talents is finding missing objects. My specialty is lost diamonds, right kids? In particular, I have located two different diamonds on three separate occasions. I have witnesses.

The first and second loss was the diamond from my first engagement ring. I was at home doing my favorite chore—laundry. I have been blessed with big fat knuckles, so the diamond is always twirling around my finger.

On the day of my initial loss, I felt an unusual sharpness on my ring finger. I gasped in horror when I saw that the diamond was missing from the setting. I began retracing my steps, convinced I could never locate such a tiny object (this is no reflection on the size of the diamond Dad chose.) I didn’t call him. I couldn’t call him. How could I possibly tell him?

I retraced my steps—family room, kitchen, laundry room. On hands and knees, and then ever so carefully, moving my fingers around my body, hoping to find the diamond on my clothes. But no luck. So now I was trying to decide how to tell Dad, and as I walked toward the phone, I felt an annoying lump in the high-topped boot on my foot.

“Could it possibly be my diamond,” I thought? Trying not to be too optimistic, I slowly removed my boot. I held my breath with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Oh happy day!  Hallelujah! I found it.

Now that I found it, I was able to tell your dad. We went to a local jewelry store and picked out a new setting for the formerly AWOL gem. Since the setting needed to be ordered, we brought the stone home, and I carefully placed it in an inconspicuous location. We were going away, and I knew that my jewelry box was not the place to put valuable jewels in case of a robbery. Everyone knows that.

As you all know, when we returned, I was unable to find the diamond. This time, it was really gone. I was devastated. Dad was so nice about it, and replaced it with another.

Years went by, and I scarcely thought of my dear old diamond, until one day, when Dad was on the treadmill. I had gotten behind in my laundry, which is so surprising since it is, as I mentioned previously, one of my favorite chores. I went to his dresser, and at the back, behind some whatnots, I pulled out a rolled-up pair of stretched-out old socks. And what do you think was inside? You guessed it—my original diamond, which has now become a beautiful necklace which I wear every day as a reminder of my carelessness and my everlasting love for Dad.