Mom discovered these white gold, diamond earrings in an antique shop in southern Wisconsin not long before she, Dad, and my siblings moved to Tucson, Arizona, in 1977. She told Dad about them, and he bought them for her. They’re very old earrings.
After moving to Tucson, Mom lost one of the earrings during a house party she and Dad hosted. The house they lived in had a spacious backyard with a pool, an ideal spot for an outdoor party after the desert sun set behind the Tucson Mountains. She lost the earring in the backyard.
After Mom discovered the earring was missing, guests helped her search for it but without success. She needed outside help from a woman with influence. She called her mother (my nana) who lived in Milwaukee, and asked her to pray to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things.
Mom wasn’t a practicing Catholic, but she had faith in her mother’s connection with St. Anthony. It had worked for Mom before. Nana hung up the phone and sent a prayer to St. Anthony. The prayer worked. Mom found the missing earring shortly after Nana’s plea to the patron saint of lost things.
Several years after the episode of the lost-and-found earring, my parents divorced. Mom gave me these earrings after the divorce. She also gave me five small diamonds that had been set in her wedding band.
I thought I lost these earrings once during a move. It was a couple of days before I found them. I had wrapped them in tissue paper and placed them in a plastic margarine container for safe keeping during the move. I didn’t call Nana to ask her to pray to St. Anthony. Maybe if I had, I would’ve found the earrings sooner. I don’t know why I didn’t call her. Perhaps I didn’t want to believe the earrings were lost. Perhaps I thought Nana’s prayers to St. Anthony only worked for Mom.
A few years after Mom gave them to me, I became curious to know if the diamonds in the earrings were real, so I had my jeweler look at them. Three were real and one was fake. I asked why that might be, and he had two explanations. First, the practical reason: A diamond could’ve fallen out, and the owner had it replaced with a synthetic diamond because she couldn’t afford a real one. Second, the nefarious reason: Someone sold the earrings and claimed all four diamonds were real to increase the profit margin.
The small diamonds my mother had given me were the same size as the fake diamond in the earring, so I had the fake diamond swapped out for a real one.
These earrings have a history that precedes me, but they’re not talking. I wonder about the woman who owned and wore them before my mother and I did. I wonder if she loved them as much as I do. I wonder if she ever prayed to St. Anthony for help in finding lost things.