A few months ago, I posted a story about how a bible given to my 13-year-old aunt Margaret in 1919 was lost for decades but recently returned to our family. You can read that post here. It’s an amazing tale of Internet serendipity and the kindness of strangers who helped reunite the little bible with my family.
My aunt died in 1985 and had one child, Claire Brown. My plan was to find Claire and return her mother’s childhood bible. But there was a problem. I had no idea how to get in touch with her.
I lost contact with Claire after I moved from New Jersey to California over 40 years ago. But thanks to an Internet search that began with the U.S. Public Records on FamilySearch.org, I soon found a Claire Brown of her approximate age who once lived in Brooklyn and Florida.
Most of the info on Claire was relatively old, so I began plowing through the many online websites that, for a fee, can find addresses and phone numbers for nearly anyone anywhere. Somehow, and consistent with every other stroke of luck in this story, I stumbled upon a website that happened to have a current–and free–phone number for a Claire Brown I thought might be my cousin.
I called the number and hoped for the best. I shouldn’t have worried, not with this bible’s lucky streak. The woman who answered the phone was, indeed, my cousin Claire. Our long overdue family reunion was underway.
I told her the story of the little bible’s remarkable odyssey and that I wanted to send it to her, which I did. She received it last week. The circle is complete.
Claire was extremely grateful to receive her mother’s bible but completely unaware that it existed, which made its return even more amazing. She still finds it hard to believe, as do I, the chain of events that resulted in the return of her mother’s bible. Take away one element of this serendipitous tale and my aunt Margaret’s bible is never found, its story forever a mystery.
As for how the bible came to be lost all these years, my aunt probably left it at my grandmother’s house when she married and moved to Brooklyn in the 1930s. It likely stayed there undisturbed for decades and was lost when the house was sold in 1977. But there is no danger of the little book wandering off again. Claire says she plans to keep it prominently displayed on the nightstand next to her bed.
I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with Claire over the last few weeks. 40-plus years apart makes for a lot of catching up. She stays in touch with two other cousins I had lost contact with, so there’s the added benefit of reconnecting with them. All thanks to a 94-year-old little holy book and its profound effect on a family that didn’t know it was lost until it was found.