Susan’s head popped up above the ocean surface. She held out her arm to get a better look at the treasure she’d found. It was just a tarnished golden chain with a heart-shaped locket attached, but it was the most interesting thing she’d found on the beach all day. It was the summer of 1960, and the eighteen-year-old was visiting her grandmother’s home on Virginia Beach before beginning the semester at one of the state’s most prestigious women’s colleges. So far, there hadn’t been much excitement. Her grandmother just wanted to sit around the house work on her jigsaw puzzles all the time, which was not a very entertaining way to spend a vacation.
Susan swam to the shore and laid flat on her stomach for a few minutes, enjoying the feel of the sand against her body. Other vacationers hurried past her. She sighed in disgust. There were too many people around. It was too bad her grandmother couldn’t afford a beach home with her own private section of beach. Still, she was lucky she’d talked her grandmother into letting her come out here at all, although Lily McCoy had insisted on coming with her.
Susan turned her gaze toward her grandmother, who looked every bit the part in her short-sleeved shirt, skirt, wide-brimmed straw hat and sensible shoes. It was hard to imagine her being young. Indeed, Lily didn’t talk much about her younger days at all. All Susan knew was that Lily was born in England, met and married her grandfather over there when she was in her late 20s, and then her grandfather’s job sent him over to the United States a few years later, and that’s where her mother and uncles and aunt were born.
She pushed herself up off the ground, clutching the locket in her fingers, and trudged toward the beach chair where her grandmother sat.
“Hey, Nan. Look what I found when I was diving.”
Her grandmother looked up from the book she was reading and smiled at Susan.
“Hi, dear. What is it?”
Susan held out her hand. The sun caught a small section of untarnished gold. The bright flash was gone in an instant. Lily gasped and dropped the book she was holding.
“Let me see that!” she exclaimed, her voice sounding suddenly harsh.
Susan started as her grandmother snatched the necklace out of her hand and examined it. Lily’s eyes filled with tears, and Susan moved to put a hand on the older woman’s shoulder.
“What’s wrong, Nan?”
Her grandmother took a minute to compose herself, then whispered, “Rosetta.”
“My little girl. She was born long before your mother, or any of the aunts and uncles you know. My first husband – you didn’t know I was married before your grandfather, did you? – was taking her on a business trip with him. He wanted her to see New York City. It was one of his favorite places. She was only three. I don’t know what he expected her to remember about it, but he said it would be good for her, anyway. I was supposed to go with them, but Mother got sick, and I had to stay and take care of her. I was going to go with them ….”
Lily’s voice trailed off then, and she sighed heavily.
“What happened?” Susan prodded.
“It was supposed to be unsinkable. Silly fools! Putting their trust in modern engineering! We weren’t rich, you know. John could only afford third class tickets at 8 pounds apiece. I head somewhere later that only one-fourth of the third class passengers survived. There weren’t enough lifeboats. Can you imagine? People’s lives were at stake, and they didn’t have enough lifeboats for everyone.”
The truth dawned on Susan. “You mean the Titanic? Your first husband and daughter were Titanic victims?”
Lily nodded. “Their bodies were never found. Many weren’t. Every day for years I prayed that something that would be found – some sign of them, and now ….”
“Now I’ve found something?”
“I gave this to Rosetta just before they sailed. Mother and I put our pictures inside, so that Rosetta would have us there with her, even though we couldn’t be there physically. Now it’s been returned to me, so that I’ll always have a piece of her with me. I don’t understand how it could have shown up here, of all places, after all these years, but I know that God heard, and He answered me, and that is enough for me.”
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