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. Loved this. I was not raised Catholic, but I lose so many things many a Catholic friend has mentioned St. Anthony. What a wonderful prayer. I’m going to copy it down. It’s so very hard to lose a parent. Lost my dad over a year ago, and I’m still coming out of my grief. Losing a parent is a long individual journey. Love these poignan moments that she captured your mind.


    1. Mom wasn’t Catholic either, but it seemed to work for her – definitely give it a try. :) And so sorry for the loss of your father. It’s a void that can simply not be filled.


  2. I’m a big Saint Anthony advocate, too. And it sounds like you believe them but I just wanted to point out that you have gotten some AMAZING signs that she is around and sending her love. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved how, halfway through, this essay takes a turn and becomes so serious. I didn’t didn’t realize that I’d be reading about such a deep and genuine loss, but once I got there it made perfect sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely piece and somehow the fact that your mom wasn’t Catholic and yet prayed to St. Anthony makes it all the better. Clearly you have many wonderful memories of your mother to provide you comfort despite your loss. My sympathies.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Genna .Even my Mom beleives in St Anthony and connected to your blog completly .No wonder wordpress has freshly pressed it..
        Aunty(Your Mum) wanted us all to read the tribute you gave her


  5. My condolences first, And also my salute to your strength and spirit. You have moved me to love your mother and admire her strength, clearly residing in you. We never really lose the people we love, it’s just that their presence in our life takes a new form, face and voice. Keep looking, and she’ll appear when needed and maybe least expected. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You made me feel your pain, your care, and most important is the space your mum is having in your heart right now. Really no one can digest the loss of a mum in their life. Deeply sorry for the loss u incurred.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “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.”
    These lines got me all teary…happy teary must say…I wish you well and good luck!
    Thank you for sharing something so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this. Your writing was so heartfelt and genuine that as a reader, one can’t help but to want to reach out and hug you! May you continue to find strength and comfort in all the treasured memories of your dearest mother! All the best. xoxo


  9. My mom introduced me to St. Anthony when I was young and was prone to misplacing things. (still am, actually). Since then I have called upon him for help not only for lost items, but when I feel lost too.
    I am so sorry for your loss. I, too, think your mom prays with you from up above.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That was a beautiful tribute to your mother. My mother didn’t use the same words, but always prayed to St Anthony for lost things! I find myself doing it these days, and have never been let down, except once for my lost spectacles! Thanks again for a lovely posting.

    Liked by 1 person

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