The year was 1979, and I was at Grossingers for winter vacation. With me, I brought my two favorite pieces of jewelry at the time — the gold ID bracelet that had my name on the front (Banji Dawn, not to be confused with the other Banjis) and signed “Love, Grandma and Grandpa” on the back. The other item was a silver heart locket that said “Love, Mama and Papa” on the back.
I treasured both of them, because they made me feel very loved and very grown up.
Of course, that winter vacation would be the last time I ever saw these precious treasures, because someone on the cleaning staff decided that she needed them more than I did. Maybe her name also was Banji Dawn, or maybe she just missed her mama and papa. We will never know. And then we say “It’s a kapara!” Because in our religion, if you lose something expensive or important to you, it prevents something really bad from happening to you. Am I understanding the concept correctly?
In any event, I have gone on to lose many other things in my life. Earrings, necklaces, important letters — the usual. I try to keep things organized, I really do. But with the combination of getting older and trying to keep everything in its place, sometimes it is hard to do it all. And my role model for all of this was my mom, the queen of misplacement and then misplacing blame.
One family vacation, I was in charge of carrying my mom’s pocketbook everywhere. I was about 8 years old, which means my sister was 14, which means that she was way too cool to carry this bag filled with who knows what that my mom wouldn’t leave in the hotel room — but I was in charge. Eight-year-old me. And wouldn’t you know it, one night I forgot the bag in the restaurant. It was not a pleasant evening, because since we had to go back to the restaurant to get it, we missed whatever activity the parents had planned for that evening, and the neglected middle child was made to feel even more inadequate.
And then there was the box of costume jewelry that seems to have disappeared from our basement. My mom had put all of this stuff into one box and hid it — and we never found it again. Thirty-eight years later, we still don’t know what happened to this box of jewelry, but don’t you worry, it is still my fault. Yes, because everything is my fault. A lost pair of reading classes, a misplaced wallet, a ring, a coat — it is all me. I am very powerful, if you didn’t know.
And then we fast forward to winter vacation 2019. Husband #1 really likes it when I wear a wedding ring. Oh yes, my very possessive spouse is so sure that someone will try to steal me away from him that he demands I wear something that shows I belong to him. (I am totally kidding, he just likes when I wear it because, actually, maybe that is the reason, I have no idea, and no one is stealing me away anywhere, unfortunately.) We were leaving for the airport and I decided to hide my engagement ring and my wedding band. I remember putting the engagement ring somewhere and thinking, “This is a really safe place. No one will find it here.” And then we left the house to go to the airport.
We come home from a lovely vacation and I go to put on my ring and it isn’t where I thought I safely left it. ARGGGG…I hate when that happens. I can remember thinking and probably saying out loud, since I often talk to myself, “This is a really safe place.” Oh man, I have no idea where it is. I am looking and cleaning and organizing and looking and, sure, the house looks a little better, but where is my ring?!?!?!?!
So the holiday of Shavuot was upon us, and I still had not found my ring. I am up on a stepstool, looking at all of the higher shelves in my kitchen — no ring, but I did manage to knock over and break three Wedgewood teacups. “Ah, It’s a kapara… And no one really drinks tea anyway.” And then I had a thought. I run up to son #2’s room — of course, he is not home for the holiday but learning somewhere in Washington Heights — and I start looking on his shelf. And there, amongst the awards from his secular days and his sefarim (Judaic books) of his current days IS MY RING!!!!!!!!!!!
The lesson here? You need both secular and Judaic help to find something that you lost five months ago. How’s that? Not great! I will try again next week.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is truly thrilled she found her rings because it has been the bane of her existence and the thought of calling the insurance company was not so appealing…