By Joanna Schwarz
Published: Nov. 17, 2012
It was a perfect summer day in July. My husband and I had packed a picnic to enjoy at Ambleside in West Vancouver.
We could not have guessed that a short time later we would be frantically combing the beach and garbage cans, wondering if someone was about to enter our home in Squamish or steal our truck.
How did things change so quickly?
The walkway along the ocean in West Vancouver is a favourite of ours, and this day we find a bench in a garden next to the ferry building and enjoy lunch.
Before we leave, I take off my windbreaker. But first I have to remove my purse which I pull over my head. With my camera case in one hand and the squall jacket in the other, we set off.
Back in Squamish, I reach for my purse. . .but it’s not there. We search the back seat, the inside of my pack, the trunk.
“Oh, no,” I say to my husband.
“I must have left it at the bench when we stopped for lunch. Without wasting a moment, we jump in the car and head back down the highway.
I prayed to God: “I know it’s not big on your agenda. It’s just a purse, but it’s got my house keys, my truck and car keys, my mail key and credit cards. I’d be so grateful to get it back.”
At Ambleside, we comb every inch of space around the ferry building. We look between logs and in blackberry brambles in case someone has dumped it.
The West Van Police office is our next stop. My husband wonders why the police would trouble themselves about a purse. “I’m sure they are interested” I say, “because something like this can lead to identity theft.”
Over the intercom, the police woman asks me to be specific. Have you tried to remember everything that hides in the recesses of your purse?
The officer comes back on. “Mrs. Schwarz. . .” “I have someone who has found your purse. You may pick it up from her house a short distance from here.
Tears well up in my eyes.
I feel like I’ve received an unexpected gift. It appears the father, who doesn’t speak much English, had taken the purse home and asked his daughter to report to the Police. And here we are, on the phone at the same time. It gives me goose bumps!
Feeling stunned by the news, we drive up Capilano Road to meet the young woman at her complex. I hear her name and yes, the family is from Iran.
Her father had been at the ferry building and noticed a purse by the park bench. She apologizes for going through my belongings but she had needed to find my phone number to leave a message in Squamish.
I can’t thank her enough and although she protests, I write a check by way of thanks. I tell her I’ll send her some of my photo cards of the Squamish area. She says she writes poetry and would like to send me some samples. We exchange addresses.
Three months later, a pile of poems arrive in the mail. It makes me feel warm inside.
One thing is for certain, I had an Angel watching out for me that day in July.