OCEAN SPRINGS -- As Cate Fraiser was getting ready to head to the Mardi Gras parade in downtown Ocean Springs on Friday night, she put on her locket -- just as she had a thousand times before.
She didn't know it might have been the last time she saw the necklace, which belonged to her mother who died of cancer when Frasier was 13,
During the parade, the now 29-year-old joined in the revelry and caught several pairs of beads from passing floats.
As the parade rolled on, the souvenirs got heavy, and she was ready to take them off.
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"I had enough and I didn't want them on my neck," Fraiser said. Standing outside near the Government Street Grocery, she went to put the beads on the sidewalk, hoping a child would pick them up. As soon as she sat them down, a woman walking down the street scooped them up.
"I said 'Thank you, Happy Mardi Gras.' " It wasn't until she got home that night that she realized her locket left her neck with the beads.
"I wish I hadn't worn it to the parade," she said. "I was pissed, pissed at myself. I was upset but trying not to be mad about it. Once I processed and figured out where I probably lost it, I realized my odds of getting it back -- it was probably unlikely."
Three weeks before Fraiser turned 14, her mother Linda passed away after a long battle with colon cancer. She inherited her mother's jewelry box, but she didn't go through it until after she graduated high school.
"I thought that my job after my mom died was to show everybody how strong I was and how I can move on and be OK, and somehow I thought if I fell apart, everything would fall apart," she said. "I think I just wasn't ready to go through her things. I wanted to pretend that part of my life hadn't changed as much as it had."
When she finally opened the jewelry box, she said she found a couple of rings her mother had worn over the years, but her mom had smaller fingers, so Fraiser knew they wouldn't fit.
She thought she wouldn't find much else. Her mother didn't keep much jewelry.
Linda Fraiser, her daughter said, was from Pass Christian and grew up poor. She waited tables and put herself through college and became a teacher. Even later in life she was still thrifty.
"I never wanted for anything, but she didn't buy nice things for herself," she said.
Fraiser also said she figured the jewelry box would be bare because her mother did not like to hold onto things.
"She liked to have a garage sales, she liked to do the big cleanups where she purged things that she never wore," she said.
But inside the box, Fraiser found a round locket with engraved flowers on a long chain. She had never seen her mother wear it before, so she had no idea where it came from.
"Maybe this was something someone gave her and she didn't like it," Fraiser thought. But when she opened the locket, inside was a photograph of herself from second or third grade.
Fraiser knew that the locket was special to her mother, and she began to wear it.
"It just meant something that she kept this locket that she never wore," she said. "I think because I didn't recognize it, it felt more special to me."
She later replaced her childhood photo with a photo of herself with her mother when she was a baby.
Fraiser has worn the locket for more than a decade, and she was upset when she realized her it was gone. On Saturday, she said she was sick about it.
"I tried to just be OK with it. I'm still trying to be OK with it," Fraiser said. "That was special because it was part of my mom and it was something I wore so often. I just felt really attached to it."
She hopes the locket may be sitting in a bag of Mardi Gras beads somewhere and that the person who finds her locket can return it.