A Parking Lot, an iPad and a Kindness

by | Feb 25, 2024

Above: James with Fidel, his daughter Layla and wife Vivian – and the iPad

After an iPad went missing Tuesday, a private message on Facebook Friday

They had the iPad when they left martial arts – JJ was sure of it. But our son James doesn’t travel light, with oxygen and tube feeding supplies, and by the time JJ brought James home Tuesday evening, there was no iPad in a bright red case with crayon marks. 

James didn’t seem to notice – one of the benefits of his developmental disability is he lives mostly in the present. But JJ was concerned, searching the house, then the car, then the house again. No iPad. 

I figured it would turn up and told JJ not to fret. JJ fretted. The iPad is an entertainment device for James – he is a YouTube superuser at this point, watching everything from Katy Perry and cooking shows to past church services and passenger flight videos (who knew such a thing existed!). It is also his communication device, with an app called TouchChat. So, I get why JJ fretted. 

We have a smaller, older backup, so all was not lost. The next day, JJ rechecked the CVS on Main Street, the parking lot, and Mastery Martial Arts. And even the police. No luck! 

I still figured it might turn up. By Thursday, though, I emailed his music therapist, who happens to be an augmentative communication specialist, to ask about what specifications we should aim for if we were to buy a new iPad. 

Then, on Friday, there was a private message on James’s Facebook fan page. We created the page few years ago because, well, James has a lot of fans. We are infrequent posters (last time was July!) so I figured the message was spam. Luckily, I checked it out. 

“Hi I found an ipad when I was working. I’m wondering if is yours. On the tablet it says “James Mcnamara’s ipad James is our superman!” If this is yours please let me know where I can bring it to you? My name is Fidel I was working in East Greenwich when I found it.”

Oh my gosh! 

I messaged back and Fidel said he cleans that Main Street parking lot at night and had come upon the iPad. It was “locked” but when he took it out of the case, he found the engraving about James being our Superman. I’d forgotten it was there. He looked online, searching “James McNamara” and “East Greenwich,” and found that Facebook page (turns out Facebook can be helpful!). 

He offered to drop it off on Saturday. I give him our address and my phone number and texted JJ that the iPad had been found! 

Fidel and his wife and daughter arrived midafternoon Saturday. We retold our different versions of the story and I thanked him profusely. Actually, we had a thank you card for him with some cash. He shook his head, “No, that isn’t necessary,” he said. I told him we were prepared to buy a new iPad and he’d had to drive here from his home (in Providence, as it turns out). Again, he said no. 

Then, one of those “only in Rhode Island” connections. 

He asked, “You live next to Joe?”

Joe Zenga. 

Yes, we do. Only Joe died in 2020. I told Fidel. 

“I used to live in one of his apartments,” he told me, “Main Street, above Fresco. Joe was so nice to me.” He touched his chest. “Not that many people make me feel like that in my heart,” he said. 

In fact, when he drove up the street and realized our house was next to Joe’s, he figured it was a sign that he should stop by and pay his respects. It had been years. 

While Fidel couldn’t greet Joe, I did promise I would tell his children what Fidel had said about their father. 

And that was that. We said our goodbyes and off they went.

But I couldn’t help feel like the day was a little brighter afterward, and my step a little lighter. Thanks, Fidel!

The words engraved on the iPad that enabled Fidel to find James.

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Stephanie Dowd
Stephanie Dowd
February 26, 2024 7:11 am

James always finds a way to bring more love to our world ❤️

February 26, 2024 10:00 am

Delightful tale!

Joyce Williams
Joyce Williams
February 26, 2024 10:37 am

In this world with all the unsettling things going on, it is nice to know there are folks who take the extra step to be kind and unselfish.

Caroline Dooley
Caroline Dooley
February 26, 2024 3:34 pm

Light Rays of a heart shining on you all

Barbara Benevides
Barbara Benevides
February 26, 2024 9:57 pm

I just love this story!

Harry Waterman
Harry Waterman
February 28, 2024 9:45 am

A bit of heaven on earth! So happy for James and these “good people” from Providence!

Susan Graefe
Susan Graefe
February 29, 2024 8:41 pm

Love this amazing story and being able to see James with this wonderful family.


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