Strolling home on that frosty day, I came across a wallet that looked like someone had unknowingly dropped on the street. I picked it up and anxiously opened it, perhaps hoping to find some identification. The wallet had nothing except three one-dollar coins and a crumpled letter.
After opening the letter, the only thing legible on it was its return address. I did open it, expecting some clue of who the wallet belonged. Then I saw the date – 1924. It looks like the letter had been there for over six decades!
The letter was beautifully written in feminine handwriting with a little flower in its left-hand corner. The common “Dear John” kind of letter that addressed someone called Michael; the sender was explaining why they wouldn’t be meeting anymore. Even though her mom forbade their meeting, the writer promised that she would always adore him.
“your Hannah,” it ended.
It was pretty hard to identify its real owner, except for the name Michael. I wondered what would happen if I could call the information and ask the operator to help me with the listing for the address.
“Hello, Operator,” I began.
“I know with me is an unusual request. I’m trying to find the owner of a wallet I just picked. Can you, please, help me with the phone number of the address that came with the envelope?” I asked.
After speaking with her supervisor, there was a little glimpse of hope.
She said, “Well, the address has a phone listing, but I won’t give you the number unless I contacted the owner and sought their permission.”
I held on a few more minutes and then she was back.
“I have someone who would like to talk with you,” she said as she connected my call to the other.
“Hello, Hi. Do you know someone called Hannah?” I asked the lady on the other end of the call.
She gasped, “We bought this house from a family whose daughter was named Hannah, but that was 30 years ago!”
Feeling a bit hopeful, I asked her if she knew where they might have relocated. She told me that some years ago, Hannah had placed her aging mom in a nursing home. However, she promised to contact the nursing home and help me find her.
She gave me the contact details of the nursing home, and I phoned them right away. But, alas!
The lady had died a long time ago, and they had no idea where her daughter could be residing. However, they gave me the phone number of a place where Hannah was supposed to be living.
“Doesn’t it sound insane looking for the owner of a wallet having just $3 and a 60-year-old wallet?” I thought to myself. The whole idea was absurd.
I went ahead and called the said nursing home, where Hannah could be living.
“Yes, Hannah is with us,” a hoarse voice of a gentleman responded.
You should have watched my little happy dance. It was a few minutes past 10 pm.
“Can I come by to meet her?” I was burning with excitement.
It was funny because I wasn’t related to her and had never even met her. I drove immediately to the facility where I was met and ushered in by the night nurse and a guard. On the third floor of the large building was where the nurse introduced me to Hannah.
Hannah was a beautiful, grey-haired mom with a broad smile. We had a bit of a chat, and she was indeed charismatic. Upon telling her about my motive of finding her, along with the letter, her facial expression said it all.
“Oh my! This letter was the last contact I had with my Michael,” she said.
“I loved him so much, although I was only 16 back then and my mom was against it,” she added, amid looking away in seemingly emotional gesture.
“Michael was very handsome, like Sean Connery,” she said.
As tears began to well up in her eyes, she hesitated for a moment, nearly biting her lips. She gathered enough courage and said, “Michael Goldstein – he was a wonderful person. If you could find him, please tell him I remember him.”
“You know,” she added, “I was never married because nobody ever matched him.”
It was getting late, and I wanted to leave her quickly. I thanked her and left, took the elevator and met the guard who wanted to know if I had gotten what I was looking for.
“At least, I had his last name,” I responded as we got off the elevator.
“But, I’ll relax for a while before starting the search again.”
I had taken out the wallet with a simple brown leather case with red lacing on either side. The guard was surprised to see the wallet.
“That’s Mr. Goldstein’s. He’s always losing it. I have picked it up at least thrice.”
I was shaking as I sought to know how he knew Mr. Goldstein.
The guard said, “He’s one of the 8th-floor old-timers. He must have dropped it on one of his regular walks.”
I couldn’t believe it. A few minutes and I was back in the nurse’s office, explaining what the guard had told me. Deep inside of me was a prayer that I would find him awake. We climbed the elevator, and within minutes, we were there on the 8th floor.
“I think he’s not asleep yet. He likes reading, and he’s probably in the day room. He’s an incredible man.” she said.
We entered the only room that’s brightly lit and in there was a man with a book. The nurse asked him if he had lost his wallet. He looked at us and checked his back pocket.
“Oh, it’s not there,” he said.
I handed him his wallet. He smiled with lots of relief and thanked me for helping him.
“I want to offer you a gift.”
“No, please,” I said. “I want to tell you something.”
I narrated the whole ordeal including reading the letter in his wallet and locating Hannah.
“Hannah? Where is she? Is she fine? Please, please tell me,” he said.
“Yeah, she’s great…still beautiful and…”
Interjecting, Mr. Goldstein asked with anticipation where Hannah was. He grabbed my hand and told of how he loved her. He never married, pretty much like what Hannah had said to me.
I led him as we headed towards the elevator. We arrived at the 3rd floor where Hannah was and found her still watching the TV. The nurse who was still walking with us said.
“Hannah, do you know this man?” pointing at Mr. Goldstein.
Hannah adjusted her spectacles and looked at us for a moment as if she already knew who we were. Michael cooed, “Hannah, it’s me, Michael.”
She was visibly surprised for a moment.
“Oh, Michael…Michael, I don’t believe it’s you,” she said as she rose ready to embrace him.
It was a sight to behold as the two lovebirds embraced. The nurse was literally crying, tears of joy, perhaps. I spent a few more minutes before finally leaving the premises.
Three weeks later, the nurse called me. “Michael and Hannah are tying the knot this coming Sunday, will you spare your day to attend their wedding?”
I stood as their best man. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I had ever attended. It was a perfect climax of a love affair that had lasted over 60 years.