Why the word pilfered? Because it’s a gentler word than stolen. But I did steal it.
At a home in Amery where my parents and friends had coffee and conversation one Sunday afternoon, we kids hung out in the bedroom. In this room there was very little to play with, but there was a jewelry box. Lovely jewelry, piles, and maybe a little gold and silver.
Ten years old, I could have written a brochure on immaturity. Then the theft. Sneaking the lovely, shiny ring out of the jewelry box and into my pocket, I had no idea what I’d do with it. Of the three kids playing that day, I was the only thief.
Mom and Polly Linden had been friends in teacher training in Polk County Normal, and they were bosom buddies, sister-like.
Two days later, at suppertime, Mom answered the phone. She was talking to Polly, and as she spoke she looked over at me. When she hung up, she asked point blank if I had stolen anything. Polly had discovered a ring missing, and Mom grilled me about it. At first I denied it, but that didn’t last long. Admitting to the act, she told me to get it. Up to my room I went, and soon brought it down. That, I thought, might be the end of it. But no.
(this was written as a recent column in The Amery Free Press)
Mom informed me that on Friday afternoon, instead of taking the bus home, I was to wait at school and she would pick me up. From there I figured out what might happen.
Friday she drove to the school door and I got in. I still remember the drive out past Goldsmith’s, around a couple curves, and pulling in at Volga Elementary. My feeling was one of apprehension, not so much nervousness. I knew it was something that had to be done.
We walked into the building and into the classroom of Mrs. Linden. First a little small talk among those old friends, then Mom turned to me as if to say, “Now Loren. Do you have something?”
Taking the ring from my pocket, I handed it to her and told her I was sorry. Mrs. Linden was gracious and said she was just glad to get it back.
A little more small talk, another “sorry” from me, and we left for home.
Mom didn’t lecture me or get angry with me, she just let the actions she put me through speak volumes. Maybe a few words of follow-up, but not much else was said. In hindsight, it seems that she had a bit of Quaker in her. She’d present me with the realization that I did wrong, take care of it, and that would be the lesson learned. For a lifetime.