Years ago, when the grown men who call me mama were just boys, I took them to eat at the Joe’s Crab Shack in Station Square. I always enjoyed sitting there and watching the river go by.
But on this occasion, as I hoisted Nick onto my hip and the diaper bag over my shoulder, the strap caught on to my earring and sent it sailing across the room.
I froze in place.
My husband gave me those earrings for our fifth wedding anniversary (at least I think it was fifth, but he’s the one in this relationship who remembers numbers). While the pair was certainly too expensive to replace with two growing boys and all the associated soccer cleats, Boy Scout fees, and Costco trips, the value of the wayward item was incalculable to me. It was priceless.
To the waiter who happened to be nearby, the earring was a quest. He immediately began searching the floor between each table. As we hunted, others inquired and joined in until about a third of the restaurant had abandoned their meals to look through cluttered tabletops and under chairs.
Suddenly, a gentleman popped up with his fingers pinched together and called out, “Is this it?” While I knew it had to be, I was surprised that the force of the backpack strap had propelled my earring 20 or more feet.
I gushed my thanks to him and the room at large; people grinned and waved, then went back to their meals. Life wandered on.
But the moment reoriented the earrings that were once a compass reliably pointing to my husband. They now have a second heading toward the kindness of strangers who helped out this mom in need.