This is the story of how a bracelet goes missing and a hairdresser gives good advice.
How It All Started
The morning that I was due to leave London and return to Canada, a bomber in Manchester killed twenty-three people and injured one hundred and sixteen others. It was horrific. I turned on my sister’s television to see what had happened and to see if the bomber had been caught. As it turned out, he was one of the people killed but, at first, we did not know that.
I wondered if the police would be out in large numbers at the airport, thinking that if the terrorist was on the run he might try to leave the country. So, my shock and dismay at the dreadful loss of life was intermixed with my sorrow at leaving my UK family and some travel anxiety about catching my flight.
My bag was already packed and ready in the bedroom, and as I gave the room a quick look around I realized that I had left my silver bracelet on the dresser. This was a lovely piece of jewellery that my son Ken, and his fiancée, Julie, had given me for Christmas, and I was very fond of it. I had worn it often during my trip. As I stuffed It into the front pocket of my suitcase I thought, vaguely, that I should put it in my carry-on bag, but I had other things on my mind.
The Journey Begins
Once we had left the house to go to the underground train station, my thoughts were all of getting to the airport early enough to check in, wondering how long the lineups would be, and reflecting on a thousand memories of the things I had done and the people I had spent time with in England. I said goodbye to my sister at the station, and got on a train with lots of other people and their luggage, all going to Heathrow Airport. Everyone looked a bit sombre, and some were discussing the bombing. By now, I had completely forgotten about the bracelet.
At the airport, there did not seem to be an enhanced police presence, and I had got there so early that I got through check-in and security in a record thirty-five minutes. I had time for coffee and a muffin and a leisurely wait for my flight.
The Slightly Opened Suitcase Zipper
The long journey to Canada all went without a hitch, and I even managed to get two hours’ sleep on the first plane. On arrival in Edmonton, I picked up my suitcase from the luggage carousel and noticed that the zipper to the front pocket was slightly open. I puzzled momentarily at the observation but was too tired to think any more about it. I took a cab home and spent the evening telling my family about my trip. It wasn’t until a couple of days later, when I was having brunch with my son Jamie, that it dawned on me that I had not unpacked the silver bracelet. My heart sank.
As soon as I got home I checked all the pockets of my suitcase and my carry-on bag, my jewellery box, and various other places where I might have put the bracelet. I did not have it anywhere. This is when I started to get really upset.
It occurred to me that my son and his fiancée might be disappointed that I had been so careless with their gift, so I went online to see if I could find one like it. If I could replace it, they would not need to know that I had lost it. My thinking was that there was no point in telling them something that might upset them if they couldn’t do anything about it.
Searching For the Perfect Replacement
I didn’t see it on Amazon, so then I thought I would check out the websites for the jewellers in our local shopping mall. From the mall’s website, I found the names of the various stores, and from there I found the website for the first store on the list. Bingo! I found the bracelet, or one that looked a lot like it.
Just when I thought my heart could not sink any further, I saw the price tag. It was $320!! I was in shock. Had they spent that much on my gift? I had assumed it was costume jewellery, not sterling silver with real diamonds. I felt just awful. I had to decide if I wanted to spend $320 just so that Ken and Julie would not know what I had done. I didn’t sleep much that night.
There are ten jewellery stores in that mall, and the next day, Monday, I went to all of them. The first store I went to was the one with the $320 bracelet. I explained my problem to the salesperson and she was very kind. She showed me the diamond bracelet and although it looked very similar to the one I had lost, it wasn’t exactly the same. The design was exactly the same, but the band was narrower, the gems were smaller, and the catch was slightly different. So, I thought I should check out all the other jewellers, to see if I could find a precise match.
At each store, I told my story about having the bracelet stolen from the front pocket of my suitcase, and wanting to find one just like it because it had been a gift. They were all very sympathetic, and they all did their best to help me. Most of them wished me good luck in my search, but sadly that didn’t help. I didn’t find the bracelet.
While I was at the mall, I decided I might as well get my hair cut. In chatting with the hairdresser, I recounted my story one more time and asked her what she thought I should do. “You should tell your son,” she said confidently. No matter what the bangle had cost, she thought I should come clean.
Grandmother’s Jewellery and My Confession
That weekend, while I had been having a crisis of conscience, Julie had been attending her grandmother’s funeral. On the Monday evening, she stopped by my place to show me some lovely photos of her grandparents in their youth and to tell me some of the interesting stories about their lives. She also brought with her some of her grandmother’s jewellery that she had been given. It was a delightful little collection; a double string of pearls, a red brooch, and a few other items that we agreed would look lovely displayed in shadow box.
That’s when I broke down. Seeing her grandmother’s jewellery prompted me to confess to having lost the bracelet that she and Ken had given me as a Christmas gift. I still didn’t know what they had paid for it and, knowing that they are very careful with their money, I was fearful that I had lost something that had taken a big slice out of their budget. I had also disrespected their gift by not taking better care of it.
It’s Just Stuff
The tears flowed as I sobbed my apology, but all my fretting had been for nothing. Julie actually smiled as she gave me a hug. “It’s just stuff,” she said repeatedly. “It’s just stuff.” She also pointed out that she has been known to lose things herself, so she could sympathize with me, and she knew that Ken’s reaction would be benign. He has learned to shrug.
Sure enough, when my son got home from work he visited me with a smile on his face. Julie had told him the story. “It’s OK, mom,” he said. “It’s OK.” So, not only were they not upset with me, they were a little amused by the whole situation. I asked Ken if he had paid $320 for the bracelet and he grinned, shook his head and said “Pfff. No!”
So, there it is. I’m sorry I lost the bangle, but I’m not sorry I stopped short of paying $320 for a new one, and I’m actually very glad that I didn’t keep it all a secret. I think we are all a little bit closer now.
The moral of the story? Never buy me expensive jewellery and always listen to your hairdresser’s advice.
Afterword [28 July 2017]: The bangle has been found!! It turns out it had been dropped in the back seat of my sister’s car. Not the same sister referred to here, but a different one. This means that I had totally misremembered putting it in the front pocket of my suitcase. My imagination created this false memory for me and I would have sworn it actually happened. Anyway, it turned up today and I am very grateful.