About a month ago, my sister called to ask me if I had seen a charm that belonged to my Mother. It was something that held meaning for her and so, had ended up on her list when we reluctantly divided up my mother's belongings. But it was nowhere to be found. She searched my Mother's house up and down, and her own as well. She looked in handbags and cabinets and dresser drawers and storage boxes and various little catch all vessels that my Mother had around the house. It was just gone.
My Mother knew she didn't have very much time left, so she had spent a lot of her time organizing, labelling, categorizing and inventorying. It shouldn't have been missing. But it was and my sister was just sick about it. I told her I would look through the things I had brought home, just in case I had picked it up inadvertantly. But it wasn't there. She decided that she had probably put it away someplace safely away from little hands that can wreak big havoc, and had since forgotten where.
Several weeks later, she called me to say it had been found. She sounded calm, but there was something in her voice that put me on instant alert. That sister intuition, which had told me she was calling with bad news the day my mother passed away, told me once again, that something peculiar was afoot.
"It's so weird...." she said slowly "I found it on top of my computer monitor. I saw it the minute I walked into the office. I put a lot of stuff there, including the memory cards for my camera, which I'm always switching out. I look there a million times a day. And I looked there when I was searching for it. It. Was. Not. There."
I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. But I had to first explore the obvious.
"Could the kids or Husband have found it and put it there?" I asked.
"I asked them. They all said no." She paused for a moment. "You know what I'm thinking. Am I crazy?"
"No." I said. "No, I don't."
But I did realize that we are still grieving, and grieving minds are often governed by grieving hearts. The heart can accept a lot that the mind won't. I thought maybe in time, it might make some sort of sense. She agreed. We hung up.
Now, let's rewind a few months, back to the days immediately after my Mother's death in October. When I arrived back home two weeks later, I was laden with pictures and momentos. The momentos I stored carefully in a small armoire in my bedroom. The pictures I wanted to put with the other historic family photos, which I kept in a large padded manilla envelope, clearly marked. Many are very old, some nearly a hundred years. Some are fragile, all are irreplaceable. I kept the envelope with more recent family photographs and portraits in a cabinet in the living room along with extra picture frames and the million and one snapshots I still haven't gotten around to putting into albums or even some kind of cursory order.
I went in search of it, intending to add the photos I had carried home with me.
It wasn't there.
I took everything out of that cabinet, emptied all the boxes and storage containers, removed all the board games and playing cards. It was not there. And that's when I began to panic. Where could it be? I tore my bedroom apart. I checked all my other various storage places. I looked in closets and under beds and even in my kids' rooms. But it was just nowhere. And I was just sick over it. But like my sister, I decided I had probably stashed it somewhere safe and since forgotten exactly where I stashed it.
Months later, in February, I visited home again, to tie up some loose ends regarding my mother's passing and to care for my sister's children while her eldest daughter had surgery in another town. Again I returned home with pictures and momentos. I put the new cache of photos in a place where they could not and would not be reached by any hands but mine.
Two days before Mother's Day, I got out my carefully gaurded treasure trove of pictures and selected those most special to me. I began uploading them to Facebook. I wanted to celebrate her in some way. Words were failing me, so pictures would have to tell the story of how extraordinary she was. I came across a photo of her as a child; perhaps 9 or 10 years old, that looked stunningly similar to Diminutive One. I thought it would be fun to post pictures of them together, so I went to the cabinet in search of one of his school portraits.
I opened the cabinet door and....
You can guess what was there, right?
Right on top. Plain as day. Impossible to miss. My own handwriting in bold black ink proclaiming....