DULUTH — I lose stuff. The most frequent items seem to be my keys, but there are other things, too. It could be anything: billfold, credit card or a bolt that finishes a project, all complicated by my trying to remember what I needed, and “Where did I put that darn thing?”
If that doesn’t work, then I retrace my steps and try to recall where I was when I lost what I so desperately need now. Over time, I’ve fallen back on a tried-and-true method of finding things, learned in my early life, from Sister Gertrude at St. Adalbert’s Grade School. If frustration looms, call on St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of finding lost or stolen things.
The good saint grew up in a wealthy family outside Lisbon, Portugal, in the 13th century. At age 15, he joined a religious community. Bothered by family and friends who distracted him from his studies, he requested a transfer to a different location, where he could give full attention to learning Latin and theology.
He switched his religious order affiliations and joined the Franciscans because they served the poor. Eventually he taught the ropes of religious life to new members. Praying to St. Anthony grew out of an incident where after a novice stole one of his books he used for preaching, Anthony prayed for its return, and the thief gave it back. Church tradition made Anthony the patron saint of lost or stolen items.
I am an equal-opportunity misplacer. Most times, I try to hold off praying for lost stuff. After all, I figure it’s my screw-up, and I ought to put in the work before I call on the heavy hitter.
Losing some items can be chronically irritating. Does the next project require pre-painted jeans or old, tight-fitting Carhartts with holes from battery acid spills? One pair has to be at least presentable for casual social events. The choices for a best-dressed wardrobe for a retired putterer requires a steady flow of denim. The hope is they will be someplace: the laundry basket, back in the corner of the closet, or hiding a foul odor in the garage after cleaning brake drums with acetone.
Besides keys, billfold and credit cards, the biggest losers in the game of mislaid items are 9 mm or 9/16th inch wrenches used frequently to make adjustments on bike racks, battery connections and lawn equipment. It’s a rare occasion when I can’t find a belt sander or floor jack. If that starts to happen, then maybe it's time to look at cozy spots for assisted living, or if there seem to be more serious missteps, investigating requirements for checking in at the home.
I recently heard of some new technology that attaches to a key ring and is connected to Bluetooth so you can find a mislaid fob. Sounds like a great idea, but I ask myself, do I really want Alexa mucking around in my electronic world telling me what I need to do? Sounds demeaning. I’d rather take a deep breath and call upon St. Anthony. He’s always there and doesn’t require an internet connection.
Doug Lewandowski is a retired counselor, educator and psychologist in Duluth. Write to him at email@example.com.