Lost and Found

#Writing101 – Lost and Found

When I think of “lost and found,” a long-forgotton song comes immediately to my mind:  “Happiest Girl in the Whole USA.”

Isn’t it strange how a word or a song can evoke such crazy memories and feelings?!

I’ve been playing this song over and over as I contemplate this #Writing101 Assignment.

It makes me smile, it makes me laugh (when music was “corny” by today’s standards), but mostly it makes me sad….

Let me take you back.

It was circa 1973.

I was 10, my brother was 9.  We were living  in another new-to-us house with our Mom and new Dad and new baby sister.  My brother and I were “buddies.”  Being only 13 months apart, we were very close (some refer to this as “Irish Twins”).  We had a special bond in our life as we were the stable link in our family life that had turned us upside down and all around.  I smile remembering the sweet little boy my brother was.  Even when I see him today, it is that little boy I see (despite the circumstances that have affected our lives).

One weekend afternoon, my brother and I were allowed to walk to the shopping mall that was about a mile from our house.  The details of the circumstances are sketchy in my mind (I truly believe I have blocked a lot for sanity’s sake), but the emotions are as raw as if it were that day 40 years ago.

It was a big deal for us to get to walk to the “five and dime” and spend some of our allowance on whatever it was that we were looking for at that point in our life.  Mom had asked us to pick  something up from the grocery store for her and gave us some money.  Like I said, the details are sketchy, but I want to think it was a $20 bill we were given to purchase whatever it was we were supposed to get.  (Though thinking back that sounds like a lot of money for 40 years ago – maybe it was $10??)  The amount really doesn’t matter, and we’ll just say $20 for the sake of this story.

My brother and I were walking and running and skipping and who knows what else along the way to the store.  There was a creek, there was a tunnel, there was an old one-room school house.  All of these things were investigated on our trip.  It was exciting to have this freedom, and we were enjoying our adventure.  When we got to the store, however, we couldn’t find the money we were given to buy what Mom had asked us to get.


We were going to be in BIG trouble!

Boy did our moods change.  We headed home combing the ground for the lost money.

No luck…

We finally decided we needed to tell Mom we had lost the money and were not able to get what she had asked us to buy.

She was so mad.

She didn’t believe us.

She told us to march ourselves right back out the door and FIND that money.

My brother and I were distraught.  We had looked everywhere for that money on the way home until finally giving up.  Mom didn’t believe us.  She thought we were lying and spent her money on something else for ourselves.

We were sad.

We had no clue what our punishment was going to be when we went home again WITHOUT the money…

We kept walking the path we had traveled, tracing and re-tracing our footsteps.  Heads down.  Hearts heavy.  So nervous.

Then, as if sent on an angel’s wings from heaven, there it was!  The $20 (?) bill on the ground right in front of us in a spot we had looked at least five times at.

We screamed.  We screeched.  We hugged.

We starting running home – only interrupted by skips – as we sang “I’m the HAPPIEST Girl (and my brother shouted BOY!) in the WHOLE U.S.A.).  We were so “happy.”  Though truly the feeling was “relief.”

I really don’t remember Mom’s reaction or what happened after.  I just remember the elated feeling of being spared the punishment for an accident that our Mom didn’t believe.  And that is still the part that makes me sad.  Mom didn’t believe us.  She thought we were lying and deceiving her.  She didn’t believe that we truly didn’t mean to, but had accidentally lost the money.  Maybe that was very irresponsible.  Maybe that was a lot of money at the time.  But all I can feel is the relief and the grief.

My brother and I bonded that afternoon yet again in a way only kids in our circumstances could.



12 thoughts on “Lost and Found

  1. It is sad when people think the worst about us and even more devastating for very young children. I’m glad you and your brother had each other and that there was a positive – a closer relationship with your brother and him with you, and THAT is priceless. I have a brother, I know. :o)


  2. I had a similar experience to this when I was about seven except, I didn’t have a brother to grief with. Anyway, it all worked out. And , your emotions did come across in this post 🙂


    • Wow – how fun that your story is so similar in so many ways – and especially how a song transports each of us back to that memory! Thanks for sharing Judith.


  3. Whenever I hear stories like this, I try to imagine what was going on in the mother’s head at that time. How pressed for money was she? Was she feeling sick that day? What sorts of pressures was she under that made her act like this? My mother was extremely high-strung, Jodi, still is, now that I think of it. Everything is a disaster, until it’s not. Over the years I’ve come to understand that her reactions to life’s little bumps in the road had nothing really to do with me and everything to do with her own nature. For what it’s worth. Jeez, how I do go on.


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