Saturday, May 2, 2009

St. Anthony is the Best

I hate losing things.  Anyone who has ever been around me when something I need disappears right under my nose knows I may need a little space.  It’s a weakness I need to work on, I know, but very few things loosen my grip on my good humor faster than realizing I can’t find something and it was just right there.  This is especially true if it is 1) irreplaceable, or 2) expensive to replace. 

My mother went to Catholic schools all her life up until college, and when I was a kid I remember her telling me stories about various saints and how they generally had some particular kind of help they were known for.  My favorite is probably St. Rita, the patron saint of hopeless cases, but I’m also a big fan of St. Anthony, known for giving help to those trying to locate lost things.  While I am not a Catholic, I am a big believer in prayer, and at times when the stakes are high for finding a particular item I am frequently found pleading for heavenly aid.  Like the time I drove off with my diaper bag on top of the car, and later realized that it, with my wallet, cell phone, and a few other things were somewhere on the streets near my house. I went over the route several times, praying it would turn up.  I didn’t find it, but I came home to find a message on my machine from the man who had found it, looked me up in the phone book, and called me to come and get it.  He wouldn’t even accept any money as a thank you.  Then there was the time I left my favorite raincoat, a nice Gore-Tex jacket I inherited from my father, in the car of a total stranger on the way home from work one day.  You may be curious as to why I was in the car of a total stranger on the way home from work…you can check out for the essentials of metro DC’s professional hitchhiking system.  Anyway, two weeks later the driver of that car recognized me in the slug line; we traded phone numbers and the next day I got my jacket back.  Chalk up one more for St. Anthony—and don’t let anyone ever tell you there are no more honest people in the world.  But I digress. 

I’ve had quite a few people tell me that I am well-organized.  What these people don’t realize is this is how I manage to maintain a reasonable level of sanity.  If I stay organized, I lose things less often. I try hard to make a place for everything and get everything into its place.  This may not sound too hard, but it has gotten increasingly difficult as each child has come along.  Trying to get the kids to put their things away is almost as tough as getting them to stop walking away with mine and leaving them who knows where.

Bookworm takes after me in a number of ways, one of which is an unfortunate tendency to forget where she's put things.  She has also inherited my myopia.  When she got glasses last summer, we established a rule that she would never leave them anywhere but the top of her dresser, which is too high for Aslan (who loves to play with glasses) to reach.  She did, of course, forget and leave them in the living room on occasion, since she didn’t need them to read and would take them off to give her face a break.  So when they went missing again a few weeks ago, though I was irritated, I was certain they’d turn up again.  They always had.

Well, they didn’t.  Bookworm was positive that she had left them on the end table in the living room before dinner.  She’d then gone to a church activity.  When she came back that evening, they weren’t there, but she figured I’d put them back in her room and she didn’t realize they were missing until the next morning.  I looked everywhere.  I made Bookworm look everywhere.  And then I looked everywhere again.  I made Aslan and Buzz look everywhere, and then look everywhere again with me following to see where they looked, trying to get an idea of where they might have dropped them (though both, of course, adamantly denied having touched them).  I don’t know how many hours we collectively spent looking. 

Being both too aggravated and too cheap to promptly replace the glasses (which are covered by a warranty against everything but loss, sigh), I put off getting her new ones.  Every once in a while I’d think of a new place we hadn’t looked, rush there eagerly, and then go back to whatever I had been doing.  I quizzed the other kids again, promising immunity from punishment and even offering bribes for information leading to the recovery of the glasses.  They had, of course, heard and seen nothing.

So last week I picked Bookworm up from a school meeting.  While there, I learned that her desk had recently been moved to the back of the room, a position that required her sometimes to come and sit on the floor at the front of the room in order to see the board. Feeling horribly guilty now about having let her go for two months without her glasses, I went home resolved to find them or replace them by the weekend.

That night, I said a fervent prayer to Heavenly Father, St. Anthony, and anyone else who might be listening.  I then rolled up my sleeves and proceeded to take apart the living room molecule by molecule.  I’d already gone over the girls’ bedrooms with a fine-tooth comb, emptying drawers, looking behind dressers, and even between mattresses and box springs.  Now I moved bookshelves to look underneath them, swept every crevice in the sofas, and looked behind the books on each shelf.  I found socks, puzzle pieces, and many other odds and ends not seen in this house for periods ranging between two days and two years.  It was during this process that I found myself looking with new clarity at our bookshelf stereo system, a compact little thing that puts out a decent sound for our living room with twin speakers and a little 6” subwoofer.

I’d looked behind this set a couple of times already.  Only this morning, after resolving to solve the problem once and for all, did it occur to me that the subwoofer is actually a box with a big hole in it sitting right at a three-year-old’s eye level.  The hole opens into a tube that extends back the length of my index finger, and it had never occurred to me to look any further inside.  A closer inspection revealed that beyond the tube, there was an open space several inches wide that dropped off into the bottom of the box.  Oh, boy. 

So then began the saga of trying to get inside the subwoofer.  On the off chance that you have actually read this far, I will try to summarize this quickly.  The speaker’s hole is too narrow for my hand and the front panel is very securely glued.  Creatively twisted pipe cleaners failed to do anything more than rattle the invisible innards enticingly (I had already disconnected the power, which involved unscrewing the bookshelf from the wall to scoot it out far enough to reach the plug).  Eventually I had to untangle three sets of wires from the back, unscrew and remove the back panel, push aside another set of wires to unscrew the speaker’s inner cover, and pop it off—finally revealing a hole wide enough to get my hand into. 

At this point, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a family of opossums in there.  Instead, I unearthed a hair clip, two sets of doll clothes, the broken handle from a toy pan—and Bookworm’s glasses.

I’m not sure why I went through all this.  Part of me asks whether it was worth it, especially when you tally up all the hours I spent looking before I finally got to the entertainment of taking apart my stereo.  Maybe it was sheer stubbornness.  Maybe it really was divine intervention.  All I can say is, pulling those glasses out of that box felt AWESOME.  Thanks, God.  Give St. Anthony a big hug for me. 

And by the way, I put the subwoofer back together—and it still works just fine.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh the way children change lives... while I am still a little ways off from being a father, the prospects of it happening are certainly a LOT closer than before. 11 days until I wed!