the lost and the found

St. Anthony of Padua
St. Anthony of Padua


Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, please look all around.
Something is missing that needs to be found.

Those are the words my mother would recite every time something was lost in our household. Except she’d replace the “something” with the name of the misplaced item: my homework, a favorite pair of shoes, or most often, the car keys. She’d finish off the request with a triumphant “Thank you, Saint Anthony,” always confident in her faithful patron saint of lost things.

Saint Anthony usually pulled through for her, too. With the exception of her engagement ring – and I’m sure he did his best with that one – I can’t remember a single time the requested item wasn’t found. And believe me when I tell you, we kept the poor guy busy.

Maybe it’s because my mom was such a spiritually keen woman. She was on a first-name basis with many saints and angels. Or maybe she just had that mother’s instinct, the sixth sense of knowing where something was without ever having seen it.

“That’s what mothers are for!” she would have sung at me upon finding something I’d lost. I’d just shake my head in disbelief, dumbfounded by her mom-magic.

The trouble is that not all lost things are meant to be found. And the thing I’ve lost now is my mother. Despite my prayers, all the patron saints and angels in heaven cannot help me.

When I was younger, mom once asked that if something was ever to happen to her, would I want her to come back as a shooting star or a rainbow? Perhaps even a budding rose? A question to which I’m pretty sure I responded that coming back from the dead in any form was going to scare the shit out of me, and she should probably just rest in peace.

So I guess you’d call it ironic that just four months after her death, I find myself constantly concentrating on the night sky, hoping to spot even the faintest star taking a dive.

Thus far, I haven’t seen one. Some nights I can’t see any stars at all.

But there are other times when I sense her presence without the help of stars and rainbows and fresh blooms. Like when I walk into a cafe that’s playing Paul Simon’s Graceland on repeat. Or when I find an old photo of her that’s fallen down the side of the fridge. Or even last night, when I grabbed a novel from my bedside table, hoping to finish it off before falling asleep, and in the final pages, it quotes the prayer to Saint Anthony.

And in those moments, I’m flooded with memories of her. Memories I’d completely forgotten. Memories worth more than shoes and homework and engagement rings and everything she and I have ever lost combined.

I have to believe it’s because of her. That somewhere not-so-far away, my mom is still calling on her old friend to find the things I’ve lost.

So thank you, Saint Anthony, for bringing her back to me.



105 thoughts on “the lost and the found

  1. Wow, so beautiful. I lost my mother-in-law last year and my dad the year before. It is amazing how those moments appear when we least expect them and when we need them the most. I love your reference to St. Anthony.


  2. Lovely thoughts. Im very sorry for your loss, it takes great strength to overcome the grief. I too lost my mom 3 months ago and writing has also helped me go through my daily sadness. It is truly wonderful when we realize how simple things we used to ignore can help us reconnect to their memories. :)


  3. How wonderful ! I too remember (and still do – looking for an earring now) this prayer. Your mother sounds as if she is wonderful. Shooting stars rainbows and a beautiful bloom will remind you she is with you but I believe she is always with you. Thanks you for such a well written piece

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I lost both my parents when I was young. I am an avid hiker and my parents take the form of hawks, and I must say I see one or two every trip. Thanks for your beautiful writing from the heart. Nothing takes away that longing for our mums no matter what our age.


  5. THIS is beautiful! St. Anthony must have helped me find it.

    This, right here, is what religion is supposed to do (as in re + lig = to join things together); connecting generations and times. And as any Catholic mentions with their Creed, the Communion of Saints, the numberless well-meaning souls alive and passed who stick together and watch over us.

    Rainbow, shooting star, rosebud — the ones who still love us are all of these and more.

    Thank you!


  6. Beautifully written and something every mother would be proud of to read. I am pretty sure my Grandmother watches over me and guides me through the slippery paths of life. I miss her so much and only wish I had spent more time with her before she departed this world. However, knowing she is watching over me is so comforting and I often thank her for still taking care of me. Your blog helped me to realise I am not the only one who thinks that someone up there is watching over me.


  7. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I believe that your Mom is always with you! Subtle signs are much less scarier than a tap on the shoulder; wouldn’t you agree?!


  8. Hi. My condolences on your loss. I lost my mom on the 3rd of Jan 2014. She passed on peacefully in her sleep with St. Anthony’s picture overseeing her. At times I wonder if St. Anthony assisted her on her path.I will most certainly ask her this when I meet her again . I at times wonder, what if she is in heaven and I am not? Then , how am I going to meet her? Random silly thoughts really just to bring a cheer in my heart compared to my ordinarily dark days. Battling depression post my mom’s death.
    Memories of mom still floods my mind and these memories do come unannounced. Its not easy at times cause it can really overwhelm you. At times like this, I draw my strength from GOD.


    1. So very sorry to hear about your mom. The grief can be so overwhelming, especially when your flooded with memories of her. I hope God continues to give you strength, and I’m sure you will be reunited with her one day.


  9. Also, sorry for you loss. I do have a feeling she is watching over you even after she has left this world and will be pestering St. Anthony to help you out!


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