We were on our way to the airport last Wednesday night, headed for Cleveland to see Carlyn in her junior recital on Thursday night. Students at the Cleveland Institute of Music are required to do a junior and senior year solo recital. We allowed an extra hour to get to LaGuardia on time, but the traffic in Westchester was horrendous – it swallowed the extra hour and then some. We were worried about missing the plane, but eventually we were able to move through, getting to the airport at 8 for the 8:50 p.m. flight. We moved through security without a hitch, though I always take a little extra time because of the metal hip that requires special screening.
I gathered my things from the bins, slipped my shoes on and went to our gate to wait for boarding. I looked to check the time and was shocked to find myself staring at a bare left wrist. My watch wasn’t there! Few material possessions are important to me, but that watch was at or near the top of a very short list. It was presented to me when I left the church in Attleboro twenty-eight years ago to begin my ministry in Westport. The 14K gold Movado is inscribed:
FRANK A.HALL PEACE MURRAYCHURCH 1972 – 1984
I made a mad dash back to security, nervously explained the situation, and a friendly guard and I looked through the stack of empty bins, hoping the watch somehow slid beneath the paper place mat they put at the bottom of the bin. No luck. The guard gave me the number to call for lost and found, but I held little-to-no hope for that. My only hope was that the inscription on the back of the watch would provide enough information for a Good Samaritan to return it.
I arrived back at the gate where Lory was waiting, anxious about the watch, of course, but also anxious because everyone else had boarded the plane. We got to our seats for the usual wait before take off. After a half hour the captain explained that Akron airport runways were ice-covered and he said we were to deboard and wait for further word.
The thought of missing Carlyn’s recital set off the same alarm bells that were clanging when we were sitting in that terrible traffic, then again as we discovered the watch was missing, so we looked at one another with that what-shall-we-do look, and I said, “Maybe we should just get in the car and drive to Cleveland.” Lory needed no persuading.
We got into the car, put the Cleveland Institute of Music address into the GPS, and began the 500-mile drive. I drove four-plus hours to Lamar, PA, about halfway to Cleveland. We got a room and five hours sleep, showered and dressed for the rest of the drive. When I was dressing, my Movado watch fell out of my right shoe! How it wedged in the front of my shoe without my noticing will remain a combination of mystery, puzzlement, wonder and embarrassment.
After a happy meal – the Hampton Inn breakfast that went with the bed – we walked into the snow-and- sleet-filled morning, taking turns driving the rest of the way to Cleveland.
Carlyn’s recital was all the more satisfying for the effort, energy and anxiety that preceded it. She was brilliant, both in her mastery of the cello pieces and in her performance – poised and balanced. When the recital ended I looked at my watch with a smile of relief.