Have you seen this hat?
Marney Ruddlesden Elliott felt a special bond with one of her grandfather’s beloved “World War II veteran” hats, bringing it with her on a recent trip out West. But she hasn’t seen it since she left the Calgary International Airport on Sept. 18.
Before his 100th birthday in March, Warren Harding Ruddlesden Sr. told his granddaughter that the most beautiful place he had ever travelled to was Alberta’s Lake Louise, and she immediately placed the destination on her must-visit list.
He lived in Connecticut and loved to travel.
“When I asked him the most beautiful place he’s ever been to, he said ‘It’s up there in Canada. Banff, Lake Louise.’ He said, ‘If you ever get a chance to go there, you need to go and see it. It’s the most beautiful place. It’s breathtaking. You can’t describe it.”
A serendipitous opportunity
Two days later, she was offered a chance to travel to Alberta for work, and she jumped at the opportunity. It gave her goosebumps, and she told her grandfather right away.
She was so excited to share photos from the trip with him, but he, unfortunately, died in July before she made it out West.
“I knew I would still take this trip with him, albeit in spirit, and with one of his beloved hats. I could feel his spirit with me on every part of this trip,” Ruddlesden Elliott says, adding her heart was full for the entire trip.
“We arrived at Lake Louise where it was forecasted to thunderstorm for three days straight. Never did we see rain. Places that were supposedly impossible to get in to see, we were able to. Fogs lifted to reveal the most breathtaking sights.”
Ruddlesden Elliott brought her grandfather’s beloved hat everywhere with her during the trip, taking photos with it on, and sharing its story with strangers.
“The first thing we did is we went up to our room, put the hat on and walked out, and went canoeing on the lake. It was amazing. It looked beautiful,” she says, adding she felt her grandfather was there in spirit.
“It was supposed to be miserable weather, 90 per cent chance of thunderstorms. But the whole time we were there, the sun shined beautifully… and I truly felt he was there the whole time.”
A misplaced hat
But at some point on the way home, she lost the hat.
“I remember seeing it when clearing security, walked to Gate C55, flying out to Toronto on AirCanada Flight AC150. The airport was busy, and the flight was fully booked and delayed. It was a comedy of chaos and I was so tired from an amazing trip,” she explains, adding she realized the cap was not with her on her flight home.
She remembers wearing the hat on her head through security but doesn’t know what happened to it after that. At first, she wondered why she didn’t pack it in her suitcase but then she remembered that there was a reason for that.
“Whenever my grandfather would travel, he loved for people to know that he was a veteran. He loved to chat with people, and he loved people thanking him for his service because it was a big part of his life. So he always wore one of his World War II veteran hats,” she says.
“And that’s why I wanted it to be out and be visible.”
The kindness of strangers
Ruddlesden Elliott made a Facebook post about her plight, and it’s been shared and commented on over 1,600 times.
She’s been touched by the outpouring of support from friends, family, and even strangers.
“I’ve had so many messages from people who are travelling through Calgary who have seen the post and have asked me if it’s been found or they’ve actually gone and checked for it,” she says.
“I have a friend whose cousin works in the area, and she said she and her cousin went and checked all the different lost and found bins in the airport, but it hasn’t been found.”
While it still hasn’t been found, Ruddlesden Elliott is staying positive and said if the hat is out there somewhere, she will get it back, but she would be equally happy knowing the cap is travelling the world.
“Who knows; maybe it will become this travelling hat that gets to see more of the world. If it is never found and returned, I will be fine. My heart knows that if someone has picked it up, it will travel the world and he will see more amazing sights through his travelling hat.”
If you do happen to find the hat, reach out to us and we will pass the information along to Ruddlesden Elliott.
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