Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Candid Camera, Alive and Well

by Marjorie Brody

Before the nurses wheeled my mom away for surgery, she handed me the necklace she always wore around her neck. “Take this,” she said. 

I thought she meant I should hold it for her until after her operation. “It belonged to your grandmother,” she said. “I haven’t taken it off since she gave it to me. I want you to have it. Just  promise me you won’t take it off.” 

While the surgery wasn’t considered life threatening, I knew Mom was scared. (The last time she had surgery, the doctors refused to believe what she told them about her reaction to anesthesia. Sure enough, she had that reaction. A reaction which caused her heart to stop.) I probably would have promised Mom anything to give her a sense of peace and ease her fear before the procedure. 

“I promise,” I said.

Famous last words.

Fast forward two weeks. 

Grandma’s heirloom distracted from the necklace and earrings I wanted to wear for my presentation to the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association 2015 Convention. I tried to hide it inside the top I was wearing, but the effect was frumpy and unprofessional. So, I removed the necklace I’d promised never to take off. 

A packed room of journalism students attended my workshop on “Plunging into Fiction” They were bright and engaged and I thoroughly loved the experience. 

As soon as I got home, I changed my clothes for the writers guild meeting I was attending that night. I put my grandmother’s necklace around my neck, the braided gold chain long enough to hold the ends in front of me and watch my fingers close the clasp and fasten the security hook.

The next morning I got up, dressed, put on a new pair of earrings, and realized—the necklace was gone.  

Heart thumping, I immediately pulled my bed apart. Surely the necklace lay tangled in the sheets or blanket. No such luck. 

I searched the entire house. Pulled apart couch cushions. Inspected the floors. Checked the car, the driveway, whatever path I took outside the day before. 

Sadness mingled with my growing panic. The necklace was the only personal item I possessed of my father’s mother. I not only lost that heirloom, but I broke a promise to my mom. 

I flogged myself with guilt. All I could think was: Mom’s going to kill me. She’ll regret entrusting me with that family treasure. (I can really identify with the character in my current novel who, because of her backstory, can’t trust anyone’s promises.) Worst of all, Mom’ll be disappointed in me.

I called the venue of the writing guild meeting. Could only leave a recorded message.

I Facebooked what happened and—this is just one example of writers supporting writers—not only did my Facebook friends show empathy, make suggestions about where to look, but Marilyn Tucker drove back to the venue, combed the parking lot, hunted through the entire inside of the building, and even went through the trash in case the necklace fell off into a pizza box or onto the paper tablecloths. (We had a pot luck dinner that night).

By that time, the awful feeling churning around my gut had migrated to my head. I knew I needed to call Mom and tell her what happened. I stalled by having two other people search my car and house—inside and out. 

I stalled more. 

I had to return to the TIPA Convention for the Hall of Fame luncheon. I decided I’d stop by Mom’s house on the way home and tell her in person.

I got into my car. Put the keys into the ignition. Fastened my seatbelt. Straightened my blouse and smoothed the neckline. 

No way. 

No way!

I thought, I must be in a Candid Camera skit.

I was wearing the necklace.

I didn’t see it looking in the mirror that morning, and the two people who helped me look for it, didn’t see it on me either. Remember, I said it was long enough to clasp in front of me? The necklace was hiding inside my blouse. 

In an instant, relief flowed through my entire body. I didn’t need to wait until after the luncheon to call Mom. I pressed the buttons on the car phone. 

“Mom,” I told her, “I couldn’t find the necklace you gave me. I’ve spent the morning looking for it.”

Her reaction? An expression of understanding how bad I felt, total caring and concern.

“I found it,” I blurted out so she wouldn’t be kept in suspense. “Just three seconds ago.”

“Where was it?” she asked.

“I was wearing it.”

A moment of complete silence. 

My chest filled with laughter. It poured out and filled the car. Mom’s laughter joined mine. It echoed throughout the car. Filling it with joy and Mom’s love. I should have known better, for once again, Mom showed her belief that people are more important than things. I knew that about her, but the “lost” necklace was a great reminder. 

Yes, it was nice to carry a reminder of my grandmother around my neck, but it was even better carrying the awareness of the caring words, the empathic acts, others do, in my heart. Life really isn’t about “things”. 

So, to Mom, and my friends who came to the rescue, thank you for the reminder.

Have you had any embarrassing or panicking “like, duh” moments?

Marjorie Brody is an award-winning author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her short stories appear in literary magazines and the Short Story America Anthology, Vols. I, II and III. Her debut psychological suspense novel, TWISTED, was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival and won the Texas Association of Authors 2014 Best Young Adult Fiction Book Award. TWISTED is available in digital and print at http://tinyurl.com/cvl5why or http://tinyurl.com/bqcgywlMarjorie invites you to visit her at www.marjoriespages.com


  1. Ha ha. That's right up there with looking for the glasses that are perched atop one's head.

  2. One day at work I couldn't find my cell phone, a small flip top one. The slacks I wore that day didn't have pockets. So I carried my phone in my hand.

    I searched all over including the restroom stall I'd recently used.

    I checked with our lost and found person. No one had turned in my phone. It wasn't anywhere on my desk. I retraced my steps through the building to no avail.

    "What did I do with it?" I put my hand on my chest. "What in the world!" I'd tucked it inside my bra and didn't remember putting it there.

  3. I "lost" a necklace I was wearing once. One that only had sentimental value to me, but I can remember both the panicked search and the stunned disbelief when I realized it really was on my body. (My companion at the time was not as supportive, lol). Glad yours was not lost. Promises to loved ones can be such tricky things.


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