33: Angels Don’t Need Your Address

33: Angels Don’t Need Your Address

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels Among Us

Angels Don’t Need Your Address

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.

~George Eliot

It was a typical last weekend of summer mania at the beach, and of course I wanted to be part of the madness. My husband thought that a quiet barbeque at home would suffice. But given his gentle and accommodating ways, there we were lying supine on our rainbow-striped towels like sardines in a tin. If we inched forward, backward, left or right, we would be quite intimate with our beach neighbors.

I was thrilled to hear the ocean roar, feel the mist on my face, taste the saltiness in the air. My husband said he could have easily duplicated this experience back home by playing one of those new wave CDs in the background (the ones that sound like a combination of an eerie violin and waterfalls) while he sprayed me with a mister and fed me potato chips.

I put him under the umbrella and headed for one of my famous beach adventures. Seashell collecting followed by a hunt for sea glass, a walk along the jetty and the ultimate reward — wading, dipping, diving and eventually riding back in on my own private wave.

We headed home, sun-drenched and parched and in dire need of showers. And that’s when I noticed that my owl necklace, a thirtieth birthday gift given to me by my dad just one week before he passed away, was not where it should have been and always was: hanging right below the I Love You necklace given to me by my husband on our wedding night.

My two most favorite men on the planet and my two most treasured gifts, and now one was missing. I was frantic as I searched every room in the house. I asked my husband if he recalled seeing the necklace on me while we were at the beach. He couldn’t be sure and neither could I.

All I could be certain of was that I was heartbroken.

I grabbed the car keys and headed back to the beach. My husband thought I was crazy and rightly so. Nine miles of beach, thirty thousand beachgoers later — did I really think I could locate one teeny necklace?

I knew I had to try. At least there was a Lost and Found. Maybe, just maybe, someone came across my necklace and turned it in. Then cynically I thought, maybe, just maybe with the price of gold someone did not.

What if it came off in the ocean?

I was unwilling to even consider that as a possibility.

I rushed onto the beach and didn’t know where to begin. The lifeguards were long gone but a worker sweeping the boardwalk had access to the Lost and Found. One deck of playing cards, three beach chairs, and more than six coolers were stacked along the wall but no necklace anywhere.

I noticed an elderly man slowly walking the sand with a metal detector in his hand. I raced up to him and, nearly breathless, asked if he had come across a necklace.

He opened his yellowed weather-beaten hand and showed me his bounty thus far — nickels and quarters but mostly pennies.

The old man said I could write down my name and address and if he happened to come upon my necklace he would gladly return it to me. I wanted to hug him so I did.

I also wanted him to have sufficient postage to mail it back to me so I gave him a crumpled up $5 bill that he re-crumpled and put in his vest pocket.

I raced back to my car to find something to write with (and on) and found a dull-tipped eyebrow pencil and a napkin.

I scribbled my name and address and ran back as fast as I could.

The old man was gone.

I searched for a while and then went home.

My generous husband offered to replace the little blue owl with a new one.

I turned down his loving gesture, as there could be no replacement. My dad, despite being hospitalized for the better part of seven months, had found a way to buy me that necklace and not miss my thirtieth birthday. I had learned about it at his funeral.

There had been a fundraising event in the lobby of the hospital a few days earlier where merchants were selling their wares. Having gotten wind of this, my dad had asked one of the orderlies if he could wheel him downstairs.

On display in a small white box on a corner table he spotted the owl necklace and knew he had found the very best gift of all. My dad always told me how wise I was, even as a little girl, wise beyond my years he would say. Wise like a wise old owl.

Without money to pay for the owl, my dad had to barter with the vendor. He offered to build something in his occupational therapy class like a magazine rack or a wooden boat in exchange for my birthday gift.

The vendor gave my dad the owl with an IOU and Dad’s favorite nurse brought it home to gift-wrap as though it had come from Tiffany.

I would later learn that this kind vendor had just lost his father to cancer and was so moved by my dad’s gumption and dignity that he never had any intention of accepting any money.

Three days after combing the beach for the fourth and final time a package appeared inside our screen door.

I don’t know who delivered it or who sent it, as there was no return address nor any postage of any kind.

Inside was a crumpled up $5 bill and my owl necklace.

First I cried.

Then I kissed that beautiful owl.

Then I put my necklace back on where it belonged.

And only then did I realize how silly I had been.

I never needed to worry about writing down where I lived. Angels don’t need your address.

~Lisa Leshaw

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