When yard sale finds are diamonds in the rough

If there’s anything my husband loves, it’s getting rid of things we don’t need. Today was a perfect yard sale day. John set up tables and started selling.

Leo, Daniel, and I needed to get out of the way before our sons realized how badly they needed to hold onto that giant Clone Trooper mask. So I told the boys we were going to take a walk to check out other yard sales in the neighborhood.

I didn’t bring any money. Leo, on the other hand, brought two plastic “jewels.” Somehow I missed this at the time or I would have advised against it.

As he and his brother were running ahead, I saw him come to an abrupt stop.

“I dropped my jewel!” he yelled. He immediately started searching in the grass. His jewels could be any color, butas it happensthey are green. Do you see a jewel here?

Neither do I.

When we didn’t find the jewel immediately, Leo and I stopped and asked St. Anthony to whisper in Jesus’ ear. We needed all the help we could get, especially when I noticed that not far from where we were looking was this.

Then two older gentlemen came and kindly started looking. When you’re grumbling under your breath about how your son should have left his inexpensive, plastic toy at home, nothing spurs you on like an elderly man leaning on his cane, genuinely concerned about your child’s happiness.

“I know how important things like that are to a child,” he said. He was right. Leo was definitely upset. His brother, meanwhile, was getting hot and thirsty and wanted to go home.

We left our address with our new friends in case they happened to see the jewel, and we walked home. After a quick drink, Leo and I headed back. We combed the grass with our fingers, section by section, and finally, at long last, we found the jewel.

Reenactment: I had to convince my son to put it back in the grass for this photo.

Leo was ecstatic. I was relieved.

Back at home, I decided John had made enough money that I could go spend a little. So Daniel and I got in the car and drove around, visiting six or seven yard sales. He is very curious and interested, but he’s not an acquisitive child, so he’s a good shopping partner.

We bought nothing until we found a box of Star Wars toys, including a large snow walker. Daniel and I agreed that we couldn’t leave it behind, especially when it cost $1.

$1. Really. You would have bought it, too.

The salesman also talked us into a marble tower building toy, and I snagged a brand-new butterfly net and a 1960s era Fisher Price radio.

$5 poorer and feeling like kings, Daniel and I drove home. If I thought Leo was excited to find his jewel, I was unprepared for his response to the Star Wars toys. His day had officially been made.

Then John came to me and said, “I can’t find my wedding ring.”

And all of a sudden I was again combing through blades of grass, looking in every possible spot, searching for the ring I gave my husband almost 10 years ago. I was surprisingly calm, trusting that we would find it.

My better half did not share my confidence. He was sure it had slipped off his finger in all the activity of running a yard sale. There was a good chance it was gone. We kept hunting, even though we knew the ring could be in a box in the back of one of our yard sale customers’ cars.

“Mama,” Leo said, “will people know Baba is married if he doesn’t have a ring?”

So we talked about how a ring is just a ring, even though this ring is special to us. And I told him that, with or without a ring, Baba and Mama are married forever.

Still, I was starting to give up hope that we would find it when John went inside to wash his hands. The ring was next to the sink.

Whew. Thank you, Lord. What a day.

I know now what we need to find on our next yard sale trip, and it’s not another Star Wars toy.

At this rate we really need to install a St. Anthony shrine in the backyard.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.