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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

There is Nothing Like Family

A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood.

Charlotte Kasl

This is a picture of my mom and me at my high school graduation. I was so glad that she was able to make this occasion. She was too sick to attend my middle school graduation. Depression and anxiety can be very debilitating. You will notice a special gift on my wrist that I received from my dad for graduation. He was there too, just not in this picture. There is something special about engraved jewelry. I have three engraved pieces: an ankle bracelet I received in high school, my wedding ring and this watch from my dad.

We had an unfortunate incident at our home the April before my youngest was to graduate high school and my oldest was set to graduate from college. We accidently left a window open when we left the house and someone(s) helped themselves to our belongings. We don’t have many incidents in our neighborhood, but when I pulled in the driveway and saw all of the lights on and all of the ceiling fans going, I knew something was wrong. My first thought was to get into the house just in case my youngest was hurt from the intruders. Thankfully, he was out for the night so I was grateful for that. I called the police, because I know that is what you have to do to file the insurance claim. With everything else the police have to do, I didn’t have any misconceptions that our belongings would be recovered. The officer was very nice and walked through the house with me. He left and I sat down to try to figure out what to do next. There is a feeling of violation when someone uninvited comes into your home. You just want to wash everything.

The first task at hand was to create a list of the items that were missing. We try not to get attached to things in our family, but there are some things that have sentimental value. I could see that they’d rummaged through my jewelry box. They didn’t take the engagement ring that I had long since stopped wearing. (I tried to hock it at one time and the guy said he would give me $50 for it. All of the red flags you see in hindsight?!?!?) As I looked again, the watch was gone. My precious watch from my late father was gone. We could replace everything else. I could never replace that watch. I took some comfort in knowing that I had pictures of the watch and that would have to do. We have a big celebration coming up and I wasn’t going to let that distract me. I had to also come to terms with the idea that the watch didn’t define my relationship with my dad. That love could never be tarnished.

A few weeks went by before I shared my news with my dear friend and neighbor Mr. L. You have to experience Mr. L to really know who he is. We consider his family, our family. I talked about him in an earlier blog post. He and his wife had been traveling so a few weeks had passed before we had a chance to catch up in the cul-de-sac. We did our usual chatting about family activities and then it was time to tell him the awful news. Mr. L is one of the protectors of the cul-de-sac. I know my guys feel better knowing he is just a call away. We check on each other’s house and are just there for each other…like family. I start to tell him about the incident and how everything that was taken can be replaced except for that watch. As I am talking to him, I start to tear up a little because I wanted to wear that watch to the graduations we were preparing for. My late dad wasn’t able to be there, but wearing the watch would feel as if a little of him was in attendance.

Mr. L says come with me into the house for a minute. He tells me to come into the kitchen and look on the counter. I say hello to Mrs. L and look down…and there is my watch. I burst into tears. He then goes on to tell me that he found the watch in his yard. His lawn had been mowed and aerated over the weeks but the watch remained safe. As far as we can determine, the perpetrators must have run behind his house to cut through to the next subdivision. When I tell you that my heart was overjoyed! He wasn’t sure what to do with the watch, but knew to hold on to it. Again with them traveling so much, they hadn’t had an opportunity to call all of the neighbors. Every time recount that story, we get goosebumps.

My dear girlfriend was here to help celebrate and she could see from the look on my face that something special had happened between the time I pulled into the driveway and the time I walked through the door. We rejoiced at how the Lord will restore things when you put the proper emphasis on what is important. The second segment of this miracle is that my coworkers were gracious enough to collect enough money to cover the deductible for me so when you think about it, we had the opportunity to get new stuff without any out of pocket expense. You may be wondering what the inscription says – “Success, Dad and the date of my high school graduation”. My dad’s birthday is coming up next week. I am so appreciative of what he invested in us. It blesses me and the fellas even though he is long gone. SUCCESS!

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