I walked into the house, reached in my coat pocket and discovered my cell phone wasn’t there.

I checked the other pocket, checked the car. No phone.

I quickly put my father’s advice about how to find lost things into action. I asked myself:

“When was the last time you saw it? Where were you? What were you doing at the time?”

Phil and I had just returned to Waterville from Skowhegan where we visited my sister. I remembered taking cell phone photos there.

Was the phone in my pocket during the ride home? I couldn’t recall.


I checked under the car seat and on either side of it. No phone.

Then Phil offered to call my phone — something that, in my panic to find it, had escaped me.

I ducked my head into the car and heard — not my cell phone ringing — but the phone vibrating! It took a couple of minutes to find it, as it was lodged securely between the seat and console. Everything is black, including the phone, so without the benefits of technology, I don’t know that I ever would have found the phone. Especially had I turned it off all together.

Searching for the phone reminded me of other instances where things were lost, but ultimately found.

My father was a wizard at that, which I learned when I was 13.

While riding my horse through a field of tall grass near our house in Skowhegan, I lost my glasses. It was a massive field and I was riding fast, as was usually the case. At some point, my glasses flew off my face and, try as I might, I couldn’t find them. Being practically blind sans glasses didn’t help.


I cantered home, dismayed, and told my father, who insisted we would find them, though I was doubtful. We drove to the field and walked along the path my horse had worn in the tall grass as we galloped.

“When do you remember last having them on your face?” Dad asked. “Where, exactly, were you when you remembered not having them?”

He scoured the field, blind daughter in tow, and eventually plucked the glasses, unscathed, from the grass.

Since that day, I have followed my father’s advice when I or someone else loses something.

Recently, Phil brought home an antique standing lamp from our lake house to replace the cord and plug. When he entered the house, he couldn’t find the plug he was certain he had carried with him, though we searched everywhere. I asked the typical questions, including another.

“Are you sure you put it in your pickup when you left the lake?”


He said he was positive he did, after which I became certain of its whereabouts.

“It’s in your hat!”

Phil keeps little items he doesn’t want to lose in the hat he keeps in his truck — things like sunglasses, pen, pencil, and now masks for use during this pandemic. He went out to the truck and there was the plug, in the hat.

Years ago a friend lost her phone and was in a panic. Over the phone, I asked the usual questions, and she confirmed the last she knew, the phone was in her shorts pocket. I asked where her shorts were and she said they were in the laundry basket with the other dirty clothes. And that’s where she found it, still in the pocket.

When my father was alive, we’d take an annual summer trip from Skowhegan to Pemaquid beach and lighthouse and then stop for lobster in New Harbor. As was typical, we would then visit Rachel Carson’s salt pond preserve where Dad would take out his canvas and watercolors and paint.

When we got back to Skowhegan one summer, Dad discovered his special jackknife was missing. He drove back to Rachel Carson’s tidal pool the next day and collected it from the water.


I’m thankful for Dad’s advice about finding lost things, though admittedly, there was one time it didn’t work.

When he was in his 90s and in a nursing home, my mother discovered one day that her wedding ring was missing — the ring she never took off her finger from the time they were married. She had grown thin in her old age, and thus the ring was loose on her finger and had slipped off it.

We scoured the house, poring through everything from her bedclothes to the trash bin. We even checked the sink drain, to no avail.

As sad as it was, my sister, Jane, figured a way to remedy the situation. She and my mother drove downtown and purchased a new ring, took it to the nursing home and asked my father to place it on my mother’s finger, which he did.

The thing I remember most about that was my mother’s smile as he did so.

Though it was not the original ring, it was the next best thing and made my mother feel better.

And I felt, in a sense, that what was lost had been found.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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