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from Kyle McDonald

Moving out of the house that she and my father had built together— the place we had called home for forty-five years—was not an easy transition for my mother.

It took over a month to divide a lifetime of memories into “Keep” or “Give Away.” The new condo would only hold a fraction of what she had accumulated.

For weeks the old house was in shambles with boxes, packing materials, and stuff everywhere. Each time we took a box to the condo, we carefully unpacked and put everything away. Mom was already living there, and we wanted her to feel comfortable and at home.

A few days after she moved to the new place, Mom realized she had lost the keys to the doors and the mailbox. Using the garage door opener she could still get in and out, but mail was piling up and there was no way to retrieve it. It was disconcerting for Mom to start her new life in such an inauspicious way.

“I am sure the keys are at the bottom of a box or buried under packing material,” I assured her. “They’ll turn up.”

But when everything had been moved, unpacked, and put away in the condo, and every nook and cranny of the old house had been emptied and cleaned, the keys were still nowhere to be found. Mom gave up and called the locksmith. She gasped at the $400 price tag for changing the locks, but she had no choice and set up an appointment for the next morning.

At 3:30 a.m. on the day the locks were to be changed, I woke from a dead sleep. Although I was fully alert, I didn’t open my eyes because of the interesting picture unfolding in the darkness before my closed eyes.

First I saw a coat my mother often wore. Then, in our downstairs closet, I saw the coat hanging. In one pocket I saw the door keys for the new condo; in the other pocket, the keys to the mailbox. “How odd,” I thought as I went back to sleep.

A few hours later, when I woke again, I remembered what I had seen and immediately went to the closet. The coat was hanging just where I’d seen it, and in each pocket were the missing keys! My mother sometimes takes care of our daughter. I presume she wore the coat over one day and left without it. In the chaos of moving she hadn’t noticed it was gone.

When I called my mother she was surprisingly matter-of-fact. “Thank God,” she said. Then, referring to the patron saint of lost things and missing persons, she added, “All night I have been praying to St. Anthony.”