I haven’t talked about my Grandpa O’Neill in a while. I figured I’d tell you a little story. Today is the feast of St. Anthony, but not the one in my story. Hey Anthony is a common name even for saints. But it has to do with sentimental keepsakes gone missing and relics. Can you see where this is going?
My grandpa, as I have shared on here before, was one of the most influential people in my life. He passed away when I was 13. It was a very sad loss for me, but I was so grateful that he left something behind to always keep us tethered. He left his rosary beads to me. For my non Catholic friends, rosary beads are a string of beads that act as a counting aid in prayer time. My grandpa’s beads are black wooden and were made in Rome. They had been used so much some of the beads were worn flat.
I treasured those beads and though I am not a materialistic person in the slightest I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I loved to pray with them and spent extra time on those flattened beads. I would imagine my grandpa’s young and strong fingers holding them tight. And I pondered his ailing fingers too weak to hold them so they had to be pinned to the hospital bed near him. But what I never contemplated was them not being part of my life. I even have “my grandpa’s rosary beads” on my famous list of gratitudes I read each day.
But one day in the summer of 2013 they went missing. My daughter and granddaughter were visiting Hubby and I in Dublin and we were jammers with sightseeing and playtime activities. I always had the beads with me as I would pray at random times in the day. Such as in the long line at the post office or other moments of pause. But then one day I didn’t have them and panic struck. I don’t remember where or how they could have gotten lost. But I searched high and low, at work and home. I called every shop, business or restaurant I had visited during the couple of days I can recall having them.
After my daughter and granddaughter’s visit I stepped up my search but began to get anxious. What if I never found them again? A coworker suggested I pray to St. Anthony, the patron said of lost items. And, she whispered, maybe give him some money. She spoke of him like he was in the room with us. And then she told me, his relics were coming to Dublin for a visit. As in, some of his bones people! But I was desperate, so I went (Hubby came too) and let me tell you, the church was overflowing with people! Standing room only and a line waiting to get in. Guess we Irish have issues with losing things.
Well I got to touch St. Anthony’s relics. I didn’t touch his bones, they were in a little casket thingy. But everyone filed up to the front of the church and touched the relics and prayed. After the service some young priests were by the door saying goodbye to those in attendance. One in particular asked if I was okay, as he could see I had been crying. I asked him if he could pray with me and we went to the side. He wanted to know a bit about my story first. Then we prayed and I was literally heaving with tears so loud I am sure all of county Dublin could hear me.
But just as we finished he looked at me and said, “Karen think about this, maybe someone found those beads. And those beads were just what they were looking for. Maybe those beads are helping someone who needs them most.”
Well St. Anthony, you may not have helped me find my grandpa’s rosary beads, but I found peace after that day visiting your relics. And maybe you helped someone find them that needed them. But sometimes I still wish I had them, and I imagine that if I ever get to heaven my grandpa will be there to greet me. And guess what he will have in his hands?
Praying with LOVE,
P.S. I realized when writing this post, I have no photos of those rosary beads. So note to self, take photos of sentimental keepsakes. Because that could bring comfort if those mementoes somehow go missing!