The missing wallet

If you’ve ever misplaced your wallet, it can be rather upsetting, to say the least. Most of us have experienced the fear of losing personal information, credit cards and money going missing. Looking everywhere, we begin to panic. Then we start to pray for help in finding that elusive wallet.

If you don’t believe in clairvoyance, or that those who have passed away can communicate, you’ll probably laugh at my story. I promise that every word of it is absolutely true. Thinking about what happened, not once but twice, always makes me smile. What brought this to mind is one morning my son Doug couldn’t find his wallet.

He seldom misplaces anything. So losing something as important as his wallet set Doug into panic mode.

We’d looked just about everywhere. Then Doug walked off into his bedroom to think more about where to find that wallet. Finally he said out loud, “Van, please help me find my wallet.” I’ll explain later why he was asking my deceased husband for advice. Doug told me “I sat down at my desk, put my hand into the cubbyhole where I keep my telephone book, took it out, and my wallet was inside.

How it got there was a mystery to both of us. However, Doug was so glad he’d found it he didn’t ponder the question anymore. He merely said, “Van did it again, mom.” Now for my explanation about why we call on Van when things are lost. Thirty-three years ago Van passed away when we lived in Lowman, Idaho, which is in the middle of nowhere near the Sawtooth Mountains.

My sons didn’t want me to be there alone, and since my son Don was returning to New York City where he lived, he took me with him for a while. Secondly, Van’s brother Tom who lived nearby in New Jersey was dying. We were all emotional wrecks, having just lost Van, and knowing that Tom was dying. It just felt right for me to return to the East Coast at that time.

Our family members really needed each other in that difficult time. Don told me later how I’d become hysterical when going through things, especially Van’s wallet, when preparing to leave. To keep me from further emotional pain, Don decided to hide Van’s wallet from me. He took it to a tiny room under the attic, one that I used as a small office and sewing room, placing it under some papers in a filing cabinet.

Some weeks later, after I’d returned from New York, my son Doug came to Lowman to help me gets things ready to take me to live with him in Bakersfield, Calif.

While looking through a stack of mail, I found I really needed to have the information in Van’s wallet. I called Don and he said he couldn’t recall where he’d placed the wallet. Please note that Doug had never before been in this house.

Doug had placed his suitcase down on the bed in the spare room. He had no idea what was in the other rooms in the house. As we searched for that elusive wallet, panic set in. Van’s wallet had his military discharge and other vital information inside I needed to settle his estate. Finally, Doug stood in the middle of the living room and asked out loud, “Van, where is your wallet?”

As if in a trance, Doug walked up the stairs to the second floor, opened the door to that tiny attic room, found the filing cabinet, opened the top drawer, lifted up some papers and retrieved Van’s wallet. Doug found me sitting at the kitchen table in tears. When he told me what had happened the tears turned to joy. Believe it or not, whenever I think about that misplaced wallet, I have to smile.

This time of year, near Memorial Day, I remember that my dear Marine had fought in World War Two, Korea and Viet Nam. He rarely talked about things that had happened to him. He did, however, talk about the bitter cold of Korea, how the Chinese soldiers would come over of the snow-covered mountains by the thousands in their brown uniforms blowing their bugles.

One time while crossing the Sierra’s near Tahoe, Van and I were in a late April snowstorm without chains and stranded in traffic. I was scared to death that we’d freeze.

Van said not to fear, “At least they aren’t shooting at us, are they?”

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


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