Our family and a neighbor named Gail drove to the Boardwalk from Pacifica for a day of fun and sun. We found the perfect spot on the beach and sunbathed, ate, rode rides and napped in the late hours of the day on our beach towel.
As we returned to Pacifica, Gail suddenly realized that she had lost her retainer. She remembered that she had wrapped it in a napkin on the beach and that it had probably been thrown away. At that time, retainers for children’s teeth were very expensive and Gail came from a very poor family.
My mother dropped the kids off, turned around and drove 45 miles back to the Boardwalk, in the middle of the night. She brought a flashlight and some garbage bags. She walked along the beach and tried to approximate where we had been sitting. She emptied trash can after trash can into bags, sifting through the weekend garbage: old sandwiches, half-eaten cotton-candy, wet and sticky left-overs. After doing this for over an hour, she FOUND the retainer. She wrapped it up safely in a clean, soft tissue and drove home.
I will never forget this story. Now that I am 45, I reflect back on it and think about what I would do for my children or their friends at a time like this. Once I ran into Gail who now lives in Sacramento, CA. One of the first things I said to her was “remember the Boardwalk retainer story?” and she did.