When I was 15, my family took a summer vacation to visit my maternal aunts, uncles and cousins in California. We did everything you’d expect: we went to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm and we went to the beach.
The highlight of the holiday was to be a trip along the PCH, making a number of stops at lovely points of interest along the way. And really, it was. That is, until we arrived in San Francisco.
My father and uncle hurriedly unloaded our rented Ford AeroStar van onto a waiting bellhop’s cart, while the ladies (my mother, aunt, sister and I) went to check into a hotel. Our belongings (allegedly) safe in the care of the hotel, we ventured out in search of food.
Upon returning to our hotel that night, I made a horrifying discovery: my beloved purple Caboodle (a 1990s-era beauty tackle-box) wasn’t there. It wasn’t in our room and it wasn’t in the van. It was gone. Inside it, I’d lovingly packed all of my favorite accessories: my green plastic Hawaiian pinup lady earrings and worst of all, my Queen Victoria coin necklace from England.
I was devastated. Crushed. But, under my mother’s watchful (laser) eye, I did my best to put on a smile so as not to ruin the rest of our vacation. We piled back in the van the next morning and everywhere we went, I looked for my Caboodle. I looked in trash cans and eyed passers-by to ensure they weren’t wearing any of my precious jewels. Alas, it had vanished, and eventually became a thing of lore in my family unit.
Flash forward twenty-some years to a recent Christmas. I arrived to my parents’ house to celebrate and was surprised at the garage door by my father, who produced from his sweatshirt pocket a wad of Kleenex. Thrusting it into my hands, he whispered for me to open the surprise, quickly.
Inside it, I found a Queen Victoria coin necklace, just like the one taken from me so many years ago. Dad bought it on eBay (we’ll discuss my abiding love for that website another time) months before, when I’d sent him an e-mail with a link to the listing for a number of the same necklaces. I’d joked that the f**ckers who stole my Caboodle were profiting from my misery via online auctions.
That replacement necklace means more to me than the first one ever did. I will always cherish those secret few seconds with my Dad and hope he knows that he will always be my number one hero.