Thursday, August 24, 2017

Of wedding rings lost and found

We were walking the dog on Saturday morning when I noticed that my wedding/engagement rings (joined into one piece) were not on my finger. To me it's really a single ring with a double meaning, and I couldn't remember having removed it, but I've found it in our sheets on more than one occasion (why I slip it off in my sleep is beyond me). So I wasn't too worried... at first.

There was nothing in our bedding, but I remembered that when the dog jumped off the bed to come to the kitchen, Lee and I heard a metallic clink and wondered what Shadow might have set loose. So I swept our entire bedroom, lifted furniture that doesn't usually get lifted, and checked both our wastebaskets. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

I wandered through the garden, searching the vegetable beds, looking in all the places I had been in the previous 24 hours. I wondered if the ring had perhaps been picked up by those treasure hunting crows who sometimes leave pieces of tinfoil for me in our birdbath. Maybe my ring would fall out of a magpie nest in our park pine tree someday, to rest forever in or under the pine needles where the rabbits make their resting hollows. I sighed. And I asked St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost things, where my ring could have gone and would he mind helping me find it? It's a funny thing we Catholics like to do.

The interesting thing is that there was a big news story just last week about a wedding ring turning up on a carrot (click here to see it). Mary Grams lives near Camrose, less than an hour from here. It was her ring, missing for 13 years, that made the news across Alberta. Seems to me my Auntie Barbara can tell a similar story.

The only thing I've ever found on a carrot thus far was a clothespin spring! But maybe a carrot could bring my ring back to me, someday... hopefully... In the meantime, I wore an antler ring that Christina gave me in the spring, made by a fellow from Grande Prairie. And I tried not to feel sad.

Still, as much as I told myself that the lost ring was just some metal with a couple of little tiny rocks attached -- stuff, no big deal -- it was more than that. It was the love of a young man for a young woman, a promise made and kept for over 26 years, a symbol of something deep and profound, and I would miss it, and grieve it, and come up with a much simpler replacement somehow. But how does one replace sentimental value?

The ring stayed on my mind all week, of course. You know the joke about the guy looking for his car keys under a streetlight, and a cop comes to help him look? After searching the whole area, they don't find the keys, and the cop says, "Are you sure this is where you lost them?" and the guy says, "Well, actually, I lost them in the park, but it's brighter over here." Well, I looked everywhere, even places I hadn't been, and a lot of places twice. Lee and I even got out of bed to check the edges of our bed frame one night. After hearing about that, my dad suggested I should get a metal detector and go over my garden again, too.

So, last night, I posted about my missing wedding ring and asked friends on Facebook if anyone knew someone with a metal detector I could borrow. I don't think I've ever had so many responses to a post before! I learned that the story about Mary Grams also made it to friends in New York and California! No one had a metal detector at the ready, but people re-posted my request to community groups they belong to, and thanks to the caring comments of so many friends (including more pray-ers to St. Anthony), I started to feel a bit more hopeful that the ring would return.

This morning a few friends reported that they knew of metal detectors I could borrow, and I was thinking to go pick one up this evening. I was halfway through cleaning my desk (in case the ring just happened to be there somehow), when the doorbell rang and there was a lot of firm knocking. Rather hesitant to open the door because I was still in my housecoat, I found a young man named Charlie, and his big sister, Ella, both of elementary school age, greeting me with, "Did you lose a ring?" They had somehow heard that the lady with the green Holyrood neighbourly bench was looking for a wedding ring, and Charlie was carrying his metal detector, a snazzy, almost new gizmo, with its instruction manual. He gave me a mini-lesson on metal detector use right there on my front step, he and Ella wished me good luck, and off they went.

And off I went to search my garden. Nothing in the potato patch, where I had dug up potatoes the night before I noticed the ring missing. Nothing in the strawberry boxes. But oh so many beeps and noises from the compost pile where I dumped those potato vines. Had they pulled my ring off? How would I ever find it in there? I spent a good 45 minutes digging through its layers, and feeling a bit hopeless again. Then a big thundercloud started growling and I decided I'd better hurry and gather up any produce that was ready (in case of hail), so I picked tomatoes and cucumbers and...

Elated is too calm a word. The rain started to fall, but I didn't care. I pulled a few carrots, ran into the house, washed them, packaged them with cucumbers and tomatoes and a jar of homemade jam to thank my new friend Charlie for his willingness to help. I ran over to his house during a pause in the storm.

Charlie was very happy, but not as happy as I am! I'm convinced that his desire to be of assistance to someone he had never met before is what turned the search around. Yes, I might have found my ring eventually, but a magpie might have found it first. And the Facebook friend who connected Charlie with me also deserves kudos for using social media in such a helpful way.

So, many thanks to Charlie, and to all those good people in my life who offered encouragement, advice, and prayers. After five days of fruitless searching, I was losing hope, but my friends found it and returned it to me.

It's not lost on me that Mary Grams and I are both wearing our rings again thanks to encouragement or assistance from others in our circles of friends!

"When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the [ring] that I had lost." (my paraphrase of Luke 15:9 -- it works for me!)

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