Lost: One Charm Bracelet, 20 Years Ago

Commentator Bob Greene tells the story of a charm bracelet, lost 20 years ago this month, in hopes of finding the long-lost owner.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now commentator Bob Greene tells the story of a bracelet lost 20 years ago this month, in hopes of finding its original owner.

BOB GREENE: In Robins, Iowa, the other day, Mary Christensen(ph) was cleaning out a bedroom closet when she found the charm bracelet - the charm bracelet that isn't hers. Twenty years ago this month - in May of 1987 - she was traveling in Europe - alone. At Heathrow Airport in London - on her way back to Iowa - security people went through her carry-on bag. They put some of the items out on a long table then put them back. When she arrived in Iowa and unpacked, she found something that didn't belong to her - a silver charm bracelet.

There were more than 20 charms on it. It seemed that the bracelet's owner was a woman with a range of sentiments. They was the charm and the shape of a sombrero. One shaped like a three-leaf clover, a charm showing praying hand. One shaped like a little piano. One like a trolley car. And there was this: a heart-shaped charm with the words: Bob(ph) loves Ruthe. Ruthe with an E on the end - R-U-T-H-E.

Bob and Ruthe seemed to have children. There was a charm in the shape of a girl's profile with the name Marcy(ph) and a date January 25, 1972. A charm in the shape of a boy's profile - Mark(ph), July 2, 1974.

Mary Christensen - back in Iowa that May 20 years ago - figured that in the confusion of the security check, a guard must have mistakenly put the charm brace into her bag instead of handing it to its owner. She called British Airways. She was told there was no way for them to know whose bracelet it was.

The years went by. In Iowa, Mary got married, worked and then retired, moved three times. And it was by happenstance the other day when cleaning out that closet she found the charm bracelet again.

Older now, she knows how much it must mean to someone - at least how much it must have meant. The small immortal episodes of a life, that's what charms on a bracelet represent - the vacation trip the sombrero may have signified. The meaning of that clover, the quiet connotation of the charm showing the hands folded in prayer.

What a loss it must have been for the woman who collected the charms on the Bracelet. That's what Mary Christensen finds herself thinking here in 2007. What panic and heart sickness in May of 1987 the owner of the bracelet must have felt when she realized at the end of her own European trip that it was gone? Bob loves Ruthe - Ruthe with an E.

So, out in Robins, Iowa - population 2,500 - Mary Christensen is hoping someone, somewhere hears these words. The lasting moments of our lives - the ones that linger - don't necessarily make the headlines. Sometimes they dangle from a bracelet. Ruthe, with an E, if you're out there, your memories are waiting.

BLOCK: Commentator Bob Greene is the author of "And You Should Know You Should Be Glad: A True Story of Lifelong Friendship." If you think you might know or be the owner of the bracelet, go to npr.org, click Contact Us and send us an email identifying one of the charms not mentioned in Bob Greene's essay.

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