Two weeks ago, I lost my wedding ring.
I went golfing with my friend Beth, and right before I got on the course, I put my ring in my shorts pocket and zipped the pocket. Safe and sound.
Two months ago, I took my ring off before golfing with my son Brendan, and he said, “Mom, you don’t want to lose that.” I put it in my golf bag, and he reminded me to put it on when we finished the round. He asked why I took it off. “Calluses,” I replied.
Foreshadowing, that’s what that was.
Back to two weeks ago. When Beth and I got to the first tee, I decided to keep a few tees in my pocket. I forgot that my 37-year-old ring was in there.
That evening, I reached into my pocket to put on my ring, and it was gone.
I pride myself on not being a materialistic person. I have all kinds of stuff, but I cycle through it without much attachment. If someone compliments me on something, my urge is to give it to them, not because I’m a saint, but because I don’t really care about a thing. And chances are I got a good deal on it.
I called the golf pro Vince, and he said he would ask his grounds team to look for the ring. Being a Columbo-kind-of-person, I explained that the ring was probably by a tee box.
The next day, still trying to feel unattached, I drove to the club and searched,. It was the day of the women’s league, and I surprised myself by choking up with tears when I explained to the golfers that I was looking for my ring. My emotion embarrassed me. It always does. The ladies were all-in on trying to find my treasure and assured me they would keep an eye out. I knew they meant it.
In my head, I equated the ring with the parable of the lost sheep. (Bear with me.) And then I thought about the woman with the lost coin. Both went through hell and high water to find the lost items. I could not find my ring. I decided I was a shitty shepherd and that not only had I lost my ring, but I have a child I don’t see often. The domino effect of this line of thinking nearly did me in.
That evening, Brendan called, and he was empathetic. He did not say “I told you so.”
As the days passed, I rationalized that it was a ring, a thing, an item. I had another one with a green stone (emerald maybe – I don’t know my gems). I put the gem-of-some-sort ring on my left hand, and I was good.
A few friends told me to pray to St. Anthony that the ring be found. My friend Kim put her mom to the task. My friend Maggie told me that her husband lost his wedding ring at a Christmas tree farm and found it with a metal detector.
Oddly, we have a metal detector. My husband Tim bought one because he thought it would be fun for our grandchildren to search for treasures. Who knew?
Seven days after the dumb pocket move, I went back to the golf course, Vince set me up with a cart, and I took off with the metal detector in tow . . . in the box. I thought the assembly would be simple. I took it out, and stared. When God passed out mechanical put-stuff-together skills, he skipped me.
The groundskeeper supervisor Mike came by in a golf cart and said, “I am going to get someone to help you.”
Next, Chris, the course mechanic, approached and assembled the metal detector in five minutes without even looking at the directions. I asked him how he could figure it out, and he said, “I’ve always loved taking things apart and putting them back together.” God gave him my portion of that passion.
I zipped off to the first tee with the contraption as my compansion. The two of us spent an hour hearing a plethora of beeps, buzzes, zaps and bongs. I wished I had lost my ring at a farm that did not have so many coins, fliptops, sprinklers, water pipes and who-knows-what-else buried beneath the surface. The cacaphony of sounds confused and startled me.
Most people would read the instruction book and then set out in search of treasure. Not me. It took me an hour of hovering the detector and reading the manual to learn that different metals have different tones and the machine can determine depth. I knew the ring had to be near the top of the surface . . . somewhere.
Then I figured that I would not have lost the ring on the first tee because I would have gotten the first tee out of my bag, not my pocket.
With this revelation, Nancy Drew (me) headed to the second tee. After being over-stimulated by a bunch of noises, I re-opened the manual in search of a clue. I found one game-changing sentence: When looking for jewelry, like an earring, take the other earring and put it on the ground to identify the pitch.
I took off my green ring, tossed it in the grass, hovered the metal detector, and heard “Ping!” That’s what jewelry sounds like.
I moved the detector three feet to the right and heard “Ping!” I dug my fingers into the grass, glimpsed the gold and caught my breath. I then shouted at the top of my lungs to the heavens and an empty fairway, “I found it! I found my ring!”
Suddenly, I was back with Tim proposing on March 4, 1985. Then I relived us driving to Sheffner’s on 111th Street and seeing the ring in the window, of going inside and saying “We’ll take the one in the window,” and the lady saying, “You can’t just buy the one in the window. You have to shop more.” And then us driving to downtown Chicago to Wabash and looking in a few windows and then returning to Sheffner’s later to buy the one in the window, the one on my finger now.
Tim used an expense reimbursement check from Ernst & Whinney to buy this ring. (That should have frightened me, but it didn’t.) I sometimes wonder if he would have proposed if not for that New Orleans audit.
I stood on the second tee and remembered being twenty-two and madly in love. And I was madly elated at the joy in finding something I know better than to be attached to.
I called my friend Beth from the tee box because I was sure she felt bad about my loss. When I gleefully cruised back to the clubhouse, left hand prominent on the steering wheel, Beth was there. She came to give me a hug and a huge smile. When we saw Vince, the pro, and I showed him my finger, he beamed and said, “You found it!” I searched for Chris, the mechanic, and he said, “You found it!” And I saw Mike, the course supervisor, who raised his arms in victory at the sight of my finger and shouted, “You found it!”
I called Kim and Maggie, and Kim then called her mom to say St. Anthony came through. I texted my friend Dan from church who was also reigning on “Tony.” I called Tim, and I know Tim was happy, but I know Tim understood. We lose stuff. We are the same that way. We try our best, and thus far, we have not lost each other.
I share this story not to recommend that you keep looking if you lost something, not as a word of caution about being mindful about where you put things, not as an illustration of my carelessness, but as an awareness of the goodness of people and the beauty of shared gladness. We are a community, and it feels so good.