Friday, December 16, 2016

Unexpected Serendipity By Chance

Over an entire lifetime, you will lose things and stuff. Some, if not most, of it will not detrimentally matter beyond interim vexation over the loss. They are nothing more than dust-collecting knickknacks and other junk, absent for whatever reason. Other items, however, might be precious keepsakes, accidentally discarded or misplaced. At some point, an inconsequential candle, in the form of a witch, disappeared during my childhood. No one in my family knows the exact moment of the confounded absconding, but one would guess the occurrence happened around Halloween. Yep, solid detective work on our part. Did it, opportunely, return to a shadowy coven to congregate with other witch candles? Did it, literally, get burned for its waxy curses? Did one of the family dogs, plausibly, ingest it? Whatever course fate navigated for its demise, it has become a pointed joke whenever something goes missing. “Guess it’s with the witch candle,” we will say when an object is unaccounted for and cannot be located.

Pumpkins weren't letting the cat out of the bag on what they knew...

My maternal grandfather, having served during the First World War, received a purple heart and several other commemorative medals for his service. Like the candle, they vanished at some indeterminate date on the calendar. Unlike the former, this instance was not a joke; rather, it was devastating. An incomparable piece of family history was gone. Before my dad passed away, he occasionally scoured the house looking for them. We knew that they had moved with us from our previous residence. While moving out a few years later after his death, my mom, sisters and I again thoroughly searched as we emptied the house of its contents. Literally, we looked in every plausible and unfathomable nook and cranny before vacating the premises. No luck. They were distressingly lost, undoubtedly relegated to the witch candle’s realm. 

For someone who once had been a meticulous and well-kept secretary, my mom was not the most organized person at home. Although she occasionally attempted to maintain the surface illusion of orderliness, her dresser drawers and other storage areas in her bedroom oftentimes were cluttered and disarrayed. While dad had been a restrained “pack rat” - mainly of newspapers and magazines - mom was, in modern-day vernacular, a profuse “hoarder.” Not anything nearly disastrous or debilitating that warranted professional intervention, but still an appropriate label. Unworn clothing, aforementioned curios, craft supplies and, for good measure, greeting cards kept for posterity, to name a few. Due to an oppositely spartan tidiness, I volunteered one lazy weekend afternoon to organize a brass trunk chaotically filled with the latter. 

Combing through the trunk, about halfway down, I came across a large manila envelope. Having fairly substantial, yet odd weight to it, these were no greeting cards. Cautiously opening the envelope, mindful in drawing out its contents, my eyes immediately widened with overwhelming exuberance and recognition: my grandfather’s medals, pinned to a piece of cardboard wrapped in plastic, returned from the abyss. Stunned by their astonishing, if not miraculous, restoration, I could not move. Instead, I stared at them in shocked awe and excitement. When I eventually came out of my trance, I hastily ran to show them to mom. Understandably, she was overcome with disbelieving joy at the sight of her dad’s recovered medals. Obviously, they inadvertently had been tossed into the chest years before, buried underneath the miscellany and forgotten.

While some frivolous things and stuff may be forever irretrievable, the cherished ones that hold special meaning and matter the most eventually, and opportunely, will find their way back.

©2016 Steve Sagarra

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