Little items in our lives are often the most meaningful possessions, despite their seemingly inconsequential nature.
Hair ornaments can remind us of proms and wedding days, and knickknacks can serve as reminders of the people that initially gave them to us. Perhaps, most frequently, this includes plateware and utensils; from baby sets to special gifts to mark lifetime achievements, we often receive these items and they become some of our most prized possessions.
In a story shared with Chicken Soup For the Soul, Sunny Fader recounted the tale of how she was reunited with such an item — all based, she explained, on the kindness and curiosity of a complete stranger.
Fader wrote that, in 1999, she received an envelope from the Social Security office.
Assuming it was just another letter about her benefits, the elder woman opened it with little interest — but that soon changed when she saw the unusual contents.
First, there was a letter. The envelope was postmarked from Batesville, Arksansas, where Fader had never taken up residence (despite moving around the country plenty during her lifetime), and the letter was from a ‘Kim Anderson’ — a name that didn’t ring a bell, either.
Then, Fader began to read.
Social Security representative Arlinda Gardiner had recommended that Anderson write the letter to Fader in order to hopefully get in touch with the owner of a silver spoon she had sitting in her drawer — one that, although in her possession, was most certainly not a family heirloom.
Instead, Anderson wrote, the spoon had been found on a beach in New Jersey by her mother and sister, many years before.
There was a stork engraved on the handle, clearly an infant’s heirloom spoon — and engraved on the bowl of the spoon, Anderson wrote, Fader’s name, birthdate, length and birth weight, and a grandfather clock with the time of her arrival were all present.
Anderson had attached a photo of herself and her fiance, announcing their engagement and inviting Fader to the wedding. She explained that her mother had given her the spoon many years before, after having found it on the beach a full 30 years ago — and when she was digging through her drawers to find something for the wedding, she stumbled across the heirloom and it piqued her curiosity.
She hoped to learn more about Fader, she wrote, and how the spoon may have gotten lost so many years before.
Although Fader herself had forgotten about the spoon, reading about it — and looking at the photocopy of the object that Gardiner had recommended Anderson include in her letter — brought back a rush of memories from her childhood. She had lost both of her parents in her late teens, and seeing the spoon sent her back decades to a time when they were still alive and part of a happy family.
Anderson had been unsure how, exactly, she could get in touch with Fader. Although she had some of her personal information on the spoon, the Social Security office she brought it to initially told her that they couldn’t give out any of Fader’s current personal information. It was only when they agreed to forward the letter to Fader themselves, eliminating the possibility of Anderson obtaining Fader’s address without her consent, that she was able to connect with the older woman and reach out about a return.
The two were able to exchange letters, with Fader sending Anderson some small wedding gifts and Anderson returning the spoon to its rightful owner. Now, as it sits in a shadow box next to a picture of Fader and her late mother during her early infancy, she’s got just one extra reminder of the family she grew up with — and that’s truly priceless.