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Lost and Found: A stroke of good luck

BY KATE WALTER | I frantically pulled out the pockets of my sweatpants, which I’d been wearing all day. My good luck charm was not there, where I’d placed it that afternoon. I had to find this missing talisman. When I could not locate it, I got hysterical. I started looking in every pocket on every item of clothing I had worn that day — sweatpants, sweatshirt, jean jacket. Nothing!

I kept looking, thinking where would I put it down? I had put my key in my pocket when I went to the store. That’s the same pocket where the charm had been and I must’ve taken it out when I returned. My key was in its usual place on the counter but my charm was not where it should be. It was not back in its box and not in any of the usual spots in my apartment where I place things.

It was not some cheap charm — it was two heirlooms from my parents that I’d placed in a small drawstring pouch. Years ago, I created this talisman to take with me for good luck whenever I gave a literary reading. And it worked! The sack contained my mother’s green four-leaf clover pin with a pearl in the middle (at quick glance it resembled shamrock) and my father’s tiny silver tie clip, also with a pearl. I inherited these when I cleaned out my childhood home in 2018.

But I was not giving a reading the day it went missing. I was a doing an important phone interview with a queer icon for an upcoming Pride issue of an online publication. I admire this person and their work and I was anxious about this interview, so I put the pouch in my pocket before I dialed their number. The interview was long and went well. It was one of those times where I did not rigidly stick to my questions and just let the person speak as I took notes.

After the interview, I went out for a walk to the store. When I got home, I realized the pouch was missing. If I’d lost these two items it would be a betrayal of my parents and I might have bad luck with the story. I would be doubly cursed. Now I was frantic.

I started praying to Saint Anthony, patron saint of lost objects, promising I’d donate extra money to my church if I found it. I could hear my Irish Catholic mother saying, “You have to cross his palm with money.”

When I went to bed, I was totally upset because I couldn’t find these valuables. I planned to start looking again the next day. I was amazed I fell asleep. Then all of a sudden at 3 o’clock in the morning, I got this message like a bolt of lightning and it said, “Check the garbage.” I sat up, threw off my covers and raced into my kitchen to open up this bag of garbage that I’d put by the door. I had almost thrown it out, but I’d left it there.

As I was getting ready for bed earlier, I was going to take the trash out, but then I realized I had already brushed my teeth, done the Waterpik. I’d removed my partial upper denture, put it away in the container. I didn’t want to walk out into the hallway to the trash chute with missing teeth. If I ran into a Westbeth neighbor, I wouldn’t be able to speak or smile. I decided to wait until the morning.

So, in the middle of the night, I dumped the smelly contents of the plastic bag onto the floor, knelt down and started sorting. It was gross but suddenly my hand felt the mesh fabric of the pouch! I found it. What a relief, but then I thought: What’s wrong with me? Am I losing my mind that I dumped this precious object in the garbage instead of putting it back in its box? Is this the beginning of dementia? Probably not, I told myself (and I was later reassured by my therapist). I was just really stressed after the interview ended and mindlessly emptied my pockets.

Saved by my denture! If I had thrown the garbage out the previous night my heirloom talisman would’ve been lost. Something or someone told me not to throw the trash out then, and that same force woke me up in the middle of the night and said, “Check the garbage.” It was almost like a voice from God or the universe or my deceased parents.

The next morning I sent a donation to my church and added a note, “In gratitude for finding lost heirlooms.” And, yes, I have resolved to be more mindful in the future.

Walter is the author of two memoirs that take place in the Village.

One Comment

  1. AlphabetCityGirl AlphabetCityGirl June 13, 2024

    That’s amazing! I am so glad you found your lost charms. I recently misplaced an important small family heirloom as well and I was so upset, and for the first time, I prayed to St. Anthony too! (and I am Jewish haha). And I found my item!

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