By MARILYN SHAPIRO
Spending a good part of this past summer in Colorado with our six-year-old granddaughter reaped incredibly wonderful moments for my husband Larry and me. The first hugs after a year of seeing her only on Zoom. Reading her books and playing Candy Land and War and Pete’s Birthday Party. Having her knock on the door of our rental at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning with a newspaper in her hand and her announcement, “I am here for breakfast.” Extending my stay so that I was able to join my daughter Julie and son-in-law Sam in walking her to her first day of first grade. I made enough memories to almost sustain me until we can see her again.
What was not incredibly wonderful was keeping track of all the items our six-year-old dynamo left behind. Larry and I had rescued her baseball butterfly hat from the Frisco Rec Center’s lost and found. Julie found her lost raincoat at her Fun Club two weeks after my granddaughter had left it there. In the meantime, Julie had to buy another one in a larger size. It was a little big, but Summit County was getting above average rain in July, and there was no choice.
Both Julie and Sam dealt with the lost-and-found-problem quite calmly to a point. But when Julie realized that their daughter’s favorite hat was missing the day before they were to leave for their planned one-week rafting trip, well, Julie lost it—her cool that is!
Shades Of Columbo
The first we heard about the missing hat was on the Sunday morning before their trip. “Come over for pancakes,” Julie’s text read. “And can you check your condo to see if you have the butterfly hat?”
Yes, our granddaughter was wearing a hat on Friday. She had it in the car when we drove down to Main Street for some bubble tea at the Next Page Book Store. In the picture I had taken of her sitting on Zayde’s lap listening to a story in the town promenade, she was hatless. But I vaguely remember taking the floppy hat festooned with butterflies and dragonflies from her outstretched hand before she hung upside down from the ropes at the playground in Walter Byron Park. I thought that I had stuffed it in my pocket and then returned it safely when we drove her home.
Who Is To Blame?
But it wasn’t in their house. It did not appear to be in our condo. Or in our car. Or at the condo’s pool area. When we arrived at my daughter’s house that morning, Julie was flipping her oatmeal pancakes with obvious annoyance.
“I can’t believe that people don’t keep track of her things when they are responsible for watching her,” she said, digging her barbs into both her parents and poor Sam. “First one hat; then a raincoat, now another hat! Doesn’t anyone ever check to see if she has left anything behind?”
Even though I was thinking, “Maybe the child needs to be responsible!” I kept my mouth closed. Besides, Julie’s guilt trip was working. After breakfast, I walked the two minutes back to our rental and did a second, more thorough search. I checked pockets and backpacks and drawers. I checked under the bed and under the couch and under the seats of our car. It was nowhere to be found.
By the time I got back to their house, Julie and Sam were fully engaged in getting ready for their seven-day trip. Having to limit myself to under 50 pounds of stuff for our nine weeks Out West, it actually looked easier than gathering everything they needed for camping and rafting. Larry and I entertained our granddaughter with books, puzzles, and games, trying to stay out of the way of the oars, coolers, rucksacks stuffed with clothing and towels, bottles of suntan lotion and bug spray, sleeping bags, a paddle board, and enough food and drink for a small army.
By the time we finished lunch, I needed a break and a possible chance at redemption.
“I’m walking downtown to see if I can find the lost hat,” I said. “If that fails, I will see if I can find a replacement.”
I first checked the bookstore’s lost and found. It had lots of sunglasses and a set of keys, but no hat. I then walked through Walter Byron Park. Someone had hung up a slightly worn “Get high in Colorado” tee shirt on the park sign, but no hat. I then walked back to Main Street and began checking out the hat racks that were set up in front of many of the stores, another exercise in futility. Too big. Too small. Wrong print. Wrong color. I stuck on my mask and began checking out inside inventories. I finally saw a possibility. Right size. Pink (Her favorite color). No butterflies, but lots of bright flowers. I snapped a picture, texted it to Julie, and then followed it up with a phone call.
“The hat wasn’t in the bookstore or the park, so I decided to check the stores,” I said. “Look at the picture on your text. I think you will love it.”
“Mom,” Julie replied a few seconds later. “ The hat is adorable, but we are not missing the floppy dragonfly hat. We are missing the baseball butterfly cap!”
“She wasn’t wearing her baseball butterfly cap on Friday,” I said testily. “She was wearing her floppy butterfly hat.” “That’s her dragonfly hat as it has dragonflies and butterflies,” Julie said. “We have that one!” Then she added sheepishly, “I guess you and Dad didn’t lose it after all.” Long pause. “Hey, at least you got your exercise in!”
She was right. By the time I got home, I had walked over three miles looking for a hat that we had never lost in the first place.
I also realized that we had seen a girl’s butterfly baseball cap the day before at the REI in the next town over. I called the outdoor retailer and asked the clerk to put it aside for my daughter. No longer feeling magnanimous or generous, I made no move to pick up either the hat or the cost. After realizing the Fun Club lost and found box was locked up because of a field trip, Julie drove over to Silverthorne and bought it herself.
Doyle Or Shapiro?
The following Sunday night, Julie, Sam, and my granddaughter returned from their camping trip, First thing Monday morning, Mother and daughter walked over to Fun Club, where the missing hat was waiting in the lost and found box.
“This warrants a story, you realize,” I told her the next day while sitting at her kitchen table on my computer. Julie just shrugged. And I started typing away.
Marilyn Shapiro, formerly of Clifton Park, is now a resident of Kissimmee, Fla. A second compilation of her articles printed in The Jewish World has been published. Tikkun Olam now joins There Goes My Heart. She recently published Fradel’s Story, a compilation of stories by her mother that she edited. Shapiro’s blog is theregoesmyheart.me.