Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.
For inspiration, ponder the phrase “lost and found.” What do you think about or visualize when you read this phrase? For an elementary schooler, it might be a box in their classroom, full of forgotten jackets and random toys. For a frequent traveler, it might be a facility in an airport, packed with lost phones, abandoned bags, and misplaced items.
On day four, you wrote about losing something. On day thirteen, you then wrote about finding something. So, today’s twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge,also reflect on the theme of “lost and found” more generally in this post.
Here are parts 1 & 2 in case you missed them:
The Greatest Loss (working title until something else replaces it)
“Time is of the essence!” declares Charlie as he slowing moves across the crowded restaurant using his hated walker.
It was nice to be able to get around without falling over, but honestly, did his grandkids really need to put those neon yellow tennis balls on the front legs of the thing? He was steady enough to pick it up each time he moved forward. Most of the time anyway.
“Mom, mom, mom,” chanted his six-year-old great-granddaughter. She didn’t really want anything other than being the center of attention. Hopping around like a kangaroo on crack, she banged into the back of at least three people on the way to their table. One lady dropped pasta down the front of a previously lovely white sweater when her lunch was disrupted by the girl.
“Katie, come back here,” hissed Charlie’s newly divorced daughter Amanda. “Dad, we’ll just meet you at the table, don’t hurry.”
Amanda may have told him not to hurry, but Charlie heard the impatience in her voice. She was irritated with her granddaughter and her father. He tried to step it up a bit, but his hip was really sore from a fall the night before. Of course he didn’t say anything about it to Amanda, she’d be one step closer to moving him to a nursing home and herself in his house.
Finally arriving at the table, he thumped down in the chair with an audible sigh of relief for having made the journey from the car safely. Gone were the days when he could hop out of the car without even thinking about it, jog to the stairs and take them two at a time. Sitting quietly collecting himself while the women in his life chatter over their lunch choices, he wondered how he slipped unnoticed from a vibrant young man to the old codger he’d become.
Charlie rather enjoyed watching the spectacle going on around him. Until Katie grabbed Amanda’s purse upending it all over the table and his lap. Bits of gum, pens and papers surrounded their table like shrapnel.
“Dad, I’ll be right back, Katie and I need to go outside and discuss proper behavior,” said Amanda as she steered the contrite young girl towards the door.
Charlie began picking up the papers he could easily reach, when he flipped over an envelope with his name on it. Frowning he looked inside and realized it was from a mortgage company. His house was paid for, why would they send a bill with his name on it to Amanda’s address?
A much more subdued Katie walked stiffly back to the table where her great-grandfather waited. Amanda followed, her lipstick a tight blood-red slash on her pale face. She sat down in the chair looking every bit as tired as her father.
“Katie,” she said quietly. “What do you have to say to Great-Grandpa?”
“I’m sorry I was noisy and rude and made a mess with Grandma’s purse,” Katie answered as she looked down at her scuffed crocs.
Charlie cleared his throat and attempted to look sternly at the little girl. She really did look small and even a bit sorry.
“That’s ok Katie, now eat the rest of your lunch and you can have a scoop of orange sherbet for dessert.”
Relieved to be out of trouble, and a little bit afraid of the only man who ever made her follow rules, she settled onto the seat to eat the lunch the server brought while she was outside. One hand held half of a grilled cheese sandwich, the other picked daintily at the fruit dish. Strawberries were her favorite, she ate them first. She started on the grapes as Charlie turned from her and waved the mortgage bill at Amanda.
“How long have you had a mortgage out on my home?” he asked.
At first Amanda just sat looking at the bill in her father’s hand. Then she began to cry.
“Daddy,” she sobbed. “I had no choice.”
“We always have choices in this life,” he answered, then sat back to wait for her explanation.
Amanda struggled to get the words out, but eventually the silence was too deafening to keep quiet any longer.
“Dad, I had to put Julie in rehab and take legal custody of Katie. Six months ago I went over to visit unannounced and found Katie alone. She’d been alone for an entire day. When Julie finally came home she was so high she didn’t even know me. They wouldn’t take her at the hospital unless I paid up front. I am so sorry, I had no choice.”
Charlie leaned over the table placing his gnarled hand over his daughter’s ice cold fingers. Letting out the breath he’d been holding, he smiled faintly at his only child. How could he have not know what was going on in his on in his own family?
“I have my house on the market,” Amanda started in a monotone. “As soon as it sells, I planned to pay off the mortgage, and then find a small apartment to rent for Katie and me. We won’t need much space, I have been slowly selling my furniture in case the rehab facility needs more money.”
The server cruised up to the side of the table with a chipper snap of her gum. “Can I getcha any refills?”
“That would be just fine,” answered Charlie, more out of the need to get rid of her than thirst. He glanced at Katie. She had pulled a book out of her backpack and was quietly thumbing through the pages.
“The market is starting to open up,” Amanda said, drawing his attention back to her. “Don’t worry Dad, It should sell by fall and you will not have to worry a bit. I am so sorry you had to find out. You shouldn’t have to worry about me now that I am past 50 for heaven’s sake.”
Charlie grinned. “Do you think you will ever stop worrying about Julie? I know she’s really in trouble now, but once she cleans up her act, settles down and starts flying right, do you think you will ever go to bed not worrying about her?”
Amanda actually smiled. “I guess you’ve got me there. No matter how hard I try, I still worryabout her.”
The refills arrived, untouched plates were cleared and Katie decided she really wanted vanilla ice cream with strawberry topping and whipped cream. Lots of whipped cream, but no cherry. She hated them. The server, still clueless to the family drama going on at her table, zipped off to continue flirting witha nice looking bus boy. “Oh to be young again,” thought Charlie.
“When I walked in here today,” Charlie said, “I was thinking about how much fun we used to have when you were a little girl.”
“We were busy all the time, playing cards after dinner. Heck, just making dinner was more fun than work since you used to help your mom and me every night. I was feeling pretty useless lately.”
“Dad, of course you aren’t useless!” she interrupted him.
Holding up his hand to stop her, he continued. “Here is what we are going to do. You are going to sell your house. Then you will pay off the mortgage you took out on my house. But, you will NOT move into an apartment. Katie and you are moving in with me. The schools are still good in my neighborhood, she can start in the fall. We will teach her how to play a rummy, using an upside down box to hold the cards just like you did.”
“I can’t ask you to do this,” Amanda protested.
“You didn’t ask me, I am telling you,” replied her father with more authority in his voice that had been there in years. “I will not take no for an answer, young lady!”
With that Amanda laughed out loud. “Geeze, I don’t think you’ve called me young lady for 30 years!”
Charlie turned to Katie. “Are you ready to go home?”
She hopped off of the chair after one last lick of her ice cream spoon. “Ok Grandpa, can we come to your house?”
He smiled and nodded while slowly rising out of his chair. Making his way out of the restaurant, he walked a little taller. In the span of an hour he got something back he never thought he would ever feel again. They needed him. Even though circumstances were far from ideal, he could help make the situation better. It was good to have new purpose and meaning in his life that he thought he would never feel again.