Our friend, Jane, was going with Ellie and me to St John’s; we were going to a prayer service to honor those who had lived and died before us. We’d do that in both prayer and fellowship. This is an annual event that Ellie and I had attended several times; each year seemed to bring new reasons to participate.
Jane stopped at our house, plenty early enough to allow us to chat a bit and bring Ellie’s car around and move some clothes-to-be-donated-to-MORE from her car to Jane’s. There were quite a few clothes in quite a few bags, but everything fit in Jane’s trunk. When we left, we still thought we had enough time to stop at our favorite Caribou.
It was a beautiful Minnesota fall day. Bright sun, a few clouds sprinkled about on the vast expanse of blue sky, temperature around 60 degrees. And many many trees were still “plugged in” ( credit for the metaphor to my dear Ellie ), lit up with bright fall colors. A great day for a drive.
“We saw Jim last Sunday,” Ellie, referring to her brother, was telling Jane. “And it seems he painted a picture of some fall splendor. It was hanging in the living room of the house where he’s living.”
“Oh, I‘d like to see it,” Jane, who’s not met Jim, said.
“Well … ,” Ellie said, “I just happen to have a picture of it.” Sitting next to me, she was putting her hand in her purse to fish out her phone.
Pretty soon, though, “Where’s … where’s my purse?” Frantic movement in the front passenger seat. “I can’t find my purse!”
We were going down I-94; I couldn’t help her look. Jane did her best, but she was in the back seat. I took the next exit and found a parking lot; no purse.
“I wonder if I put it down when we moved the clothes,” Ellie said.
“I don’t remember your having it,” Jane countered. “You sure you brought it out of the house?”
“No. Walter went to the bathroom just before we left … I wasn’t sure where he was … I had a bunch of stuff to carry out.” Pause. “I don’t remember putting it over my shoulder.”
I didn’t remember anything except moving the clothes to Jane’s car; that added nothing to the conversation, so I didn’t add it. Ellie had put her phone in another small bag that she brought, so she had that. However, keys, money, credit cards, car fob, remote car starter began the list of important things that were now missing. “We have to return home,” I said.
“Really? I feel really badly missing the service.”
“Me, too, but we gotta recover your purse, or start making calls ...”
As we were returning, Jane suggested calling a neighbor. Ellie called a couple. Nobody home. She left no message.
One of them called back. Nice of him, but he was not home and couldn’t help.
I dropped them off to search around Jane’s car while I went around back. As I entered the dining room, there it was … where it almost always is when we’re home. Ellie and Jane were coming up the walk to the house. I opened the door, showed them the purse, and smiled. “Come on out so we can get going to St John’s,” Ellie said.
I picked them up, we made our way to St John’s, and spent some time at Loretta’s grave.
We walked to the site of the earlier prayer vigil. After we reflected quietly I offered to get the car. As I drove up I noticed a stranger with them. It wasn’t a stranger, it was the director of the cemetery, whom we’ve come to consider a friend. From the parish funeral that was winding down as we arrived she had seen Ellie and Jane, and come over. Pleased to see her, I got out of the car, we all hugged, caught up a bit, and then we left, stopping for dinner before returning home.
It was a rewarding day.
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