Sometimes I stop at the local Goodwill store just to look around. I’m always interested in the electronics. Once in a while a nice piece of old stereo equipment shows up. This particular day seemed like a dry run, but as I was leaving I noticed a familiar looking book on the shelf. It was a High School yearbook from the year before I graduated. I opened it up and saw the name of its original owner on the inside top left corner. It had belonged to a girl who was a junior when I was a senior. As I flipped through the pages her whole junior year was chronicled by her friend’s comments written in the margins. Why was this book at Goodwill? Had she included it in a box of donations? Something just didn’t seem right. It was only a dollar so I brought it home. The good samaritan side of me felt pretty good. I knew the whereabouts of her older brother. I would contact him, find out where she was and mail it to her. Good deed, done!
That evening as I told my wife my story, she quickly threw a wrench in my plans by questioning my decision. She said she had no idea where her high school annuals were and really didn’t care. Sentimental attachments have never been one of her strengths. When I told her I wanted to be cremated she complained that she didn’t want to have to keep up with an urn full of ashes. Anyway, her comments got me thinking. Maybe this person had given it up to put the past in the past. Maybe old, painful wounds would be opened. Not only had I created a conundrum for myself, I had paid to get it.
There was a decision to make. Was I being a good Samaritan or a selfish meddler? Should I let sleeping dogs lay or should pick at the scab of time and risk infection?
The next day I made the call to her brother. I got his answering machine and left a message. Two days later he called back, so I told him the story and asked for her contact information. He said he couldn’t give it to me because she suffered from chronic depression and other mental issues. She lived by herself and had never married. He told me he would discuss it with her and get back to me.
Wow! It really looked like my meddling may have dire consequences. I shared the story with my cousin and found she too was aware of this person’s mental problems she had been battling since her college days. A little detective work on the front end may have kept me from contacting him but it was too late now. I didn’t know if I would ever hear from him again.
Almost a week later my phone rang. He had spoken to her. It seems the yearbook had been stolen years ago about 2 weeks after the school had distributed them. He said she was excited about getting it back so he gave me his address. I sent it out that afternoon.
About a year later as I read the local newspaper, I came across her obituary.