Once upon a time there was an absent minded young woman. Let's call her . . . Stephanie. She was a single mother who lived in a town 330 miles away from the father of her children. Every two weekends, she would faithfully drive the entire distance so her young children could spend the weekend with their father. She had family and friends in the area, so she never had a problem finding a place to stay while she waited for the weekend to end, when she'd drive her children back to their home.
One such trip proved to be rather eventful when the lovely family stopped at a rest area. The stop itself wasn't unusual, but Stephanie left a very important item in the stall which she used to . . . rest. [Rest area, get it?] Now, since childhood, Stephanie had been very forgetful. But this -- well, this time was the worst moment of forgetfulness yet. No, she didn't leave her child (although leaving-your-offspring-at-a-public-facility syndrome was in her genes [sorry, Mom]); she left her purse. She mindlessly loaded and buckled her children, and continued on her trip.
About 130 miles later, Stephanie needed some chapstick. She reached to the passenger seat to grab her purse, but, since her purse was in a rest area (or, worse, a stranger's hand), her purse was not to be found. Stephanie looked all over. She turned on the dome light and moved the snacks around. She looked behind her as best she could without wrecking the car. And then she remembered having removed it from the car at the rest area, but didn't remember returning to the car with it. She turned off the dome light and resigned to the truth of her embarrassing error. This resignation was followed by an embarrassing panic attack of sorts, during which several beats of her head against the her seat's headrest took place. There were also some vocal exclamations, but no words would be sufficient for how she felt, so mostly she just shouted nonsense. Had it not been so tragic, it would have been quite comical. The very moment she calmed was the moment she called her bank's customer service line and cancelled her debit card. But she was sick about her kids' social security cards that were in her purse, her I.D., her camera, her checks, and her blood donor card.
The next day, Saturday, she tried to call the Idaho Transportation Department, but, of course, they were closed. It was difficult for Stephanie not to give in to despair, but she reminded herself that even when she makes her life especially complicated, God seems to bail her out. Always. So, Stephanie dared to hope that she would either find it on her return trip, or that honest hands had retrieved it and would ship it to her home. However, she remembered that the address on her I.D. had been different for two years. She also had an address on her checks which was more recent but not current. She remembered she had a piece of mail in her purse which had her current address, but there would really be no way for the purse's finder to know which address to use. However, Stephanie was a tithe payer, and she kept her yellow tithing slips in her purse, which slips also contained her current address. She dared hope that the finder would connect the slips with the piece of mail and ship it there.
Well, she did stop on her way home but, of course, a purse simply doesn't last a weekend in a rest area. She sadly trode back to her car and completed the trip. The next day she eagerly checked her mailbox, hoping for a package. Of course this was premature; it was only Monday. And, of course, there was no package. Tuesday, no package. On Wednesday, she found a key in her mailbox! Stephanie's apartment mailboxes were very small, so when a tenant has a package, the mail person leaves a key which opens one of the two very large boxes. Stephanie was thrilled as she turned the lock in the package box, and then promptly disappointed when she saw how small the package was. It was only an eBay purchase.
On Thursday, she remembered she hadn't called the Transportation Dept. yet. Forgetful, remember? So she made a committment that she would call that day. Maybe they'd found it. She pulled into her parking space and was going to check the mail, as was her custom, when her daughter, whom we'll call Anna, said: "Mommy, there's somethin on the door!" Anna had won the race to the door again, and was able to see it long before Stephanie was. Stephanie turned, curious, and asked Anna to bring it to her. It read:
"Hi,I found a purse in a Southern ID rest area with this address inside. I tried to deliver it. Call me when you can. 351-****"
Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! were the words that bounced through Stephanie's brain. She promptly called the number and discovered that the finder of the purse lived in a town about 10 miles away. Of all the people in all the world who stop at rest areas in their travels, Stephanie's purse was found by an HONEST woman who lived a hop, skip and a jump away! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!
The two women met thirty minutes later at a gas station in the stranger's town. And now I have my purse, my camera, my ID, my kids' SS cards, and my beloved blood donor card. Even when I make idiot choices that really mess up my life, God bails me out. Amazing.
We'd never been to St. Anthony before, so we looked around. There's a lovely river that runs through it and a short waterfall, and my kids love waterfalls more than anything in all the world, so we stopped and took a walk in the biting weather. It was very beautiful, with all the ice and snow and running water. Very beautiful. And when my fingers were icicles I said it was time to leave, but the kids didn't want to stop staring at the waterfall. I love them.