Monday, October 14, 2013

The Lost Ring

From the time of her marriage, my mother wore two thin gold circlets that served as her wedding band. After she died, my dad wore those rings on his pinky— and he was not a man for jewelry; about unostentatious as a New Yorker could get—but this was in memory of Mom. Before her passing, Dad had worn the ring given him by his parents at his Bar Mitzvah. That’s the ritual in the Jewish tradition that marks the entrance of a boy to manhood and welcomes him to participate fully in its observances. The ring had his initials WD for William Devens engraved in the gold and it originally held a small diamond that disappeared at some point, never to be replaced.

I inherited these bits of jewelry along with some other pieces, and they are—aside from my engagement ring, which is another bittersweet story—the most precious items I own. I wear the three together most days, fragments of memory wrought in gold, and think of them as talismans. I won’t fly, attend major meetings, or go to important doctors' appointments without them. I rub their surface for a blessing and am comforted by their warm glimmer in the flickering light of my parents’ memorial candles. 

I have slender fingers, and the two thin bands are slightly big on me but, with the ring measured for a thirteen-year-old boy sliding on last, everything seemed secure. And then a few weeks ago I glanced down at my hand and realized that, although my mom’s two bands were intact, the bar mitzvah ring, last on, was gone.

I swear I turned over every pillow, crawled under every piece of furniture, scoured every room for the lost ring. I checked the car. Traced my steps for the two previous days and made calls. All in vain. So I turned to St. Anthony, “finder of lost things.” Since an Italian friend introduced me to the good saint decades back, he’d always come through for me. 

“Hey, Tony,” I prayed in my best Little Italy accent, “Help me, old pal. Don’t fail me now.“ But nanda, rien, gornisht, nothing. I was devastated. It was as if I’d lost the tangible presence of my parents. And after it occurred to me that the ring had probably slid off my finger at my condo building’s trash chute, had gone down with the plastic bags and was buried in some county dump, my heart broke a little more .

Back story over. Fast forward to yesterday morning. A friend is celebrating her birthday next week. Now, all the closets in my apartment are walk-ins, an estrogen-driven dream. The one in the second bedroom has sufficient space, to hold—besides off-season clothing—files of birthday and other greeting cards, gift wrap organized in boxes, and ribbons and tissue paper neatly stored in a large bag. (This gift stuff obsession is also a woman thing. Men do not get it.) It was when I went to that bag to pull some tissue paper for my friend’s present that I saw something glitter at the bottom. And of course, there it was, the bar mitzvah ring. A tiny, shining miracle on an otherwise ordinary October day—as if any day in our short lives can be counted as ordinary.


Have you ever recovered something long after you’d given up hope of finding it? Or maybe you discovered a lost object in an unexpected place. We’ve just made it much easier for you to tell us about it. Just look below my text and you’ll see the comment box. That’s it. You found it! I’d love you to try it out so that everyone can enjoy your lost-and-found stories.

Toby Devens

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  1. My engagement ring disappeared about 5 years ago. I didn't wear it regularly when the kids were little, because it scratched.I am one of those people who squirrels things away, "so they don't get taken in case someone breaks in while I'm gone." It took me two years to find a necklace that I had hidden that way. I hope that, maybe the ring will turn up. If not, well, I didn't really wear it regularly.

  2. Binnie Syril BraunsteinOctober 16, 2013 at 3:39 AM

    Two "lost article" stories:

    When my sister and I were children, my mother would take us on trips. (My father hated to travel; he loved to drive us to the train station, however.) Anyway, one such trip was to New York, where we stayed at the New York Hilton. The drill was: arrive at Penn Station, catch a cab...Well, on the return trip, while we were waiting for the train to Baltimore, I noticed that mother's earring was missing. In one ear, there was a very pretty dangling silver marcasite earring. In her other ear - nothing. Oy. Of course, I told my mother immediately. She, being a bit on the negative side, shrugged her shoulders and was convinced it was gone forever. I, however, loved those earrings - and told her that we WOULD find the missing one. I insisted that we re-trace our steps and try to find the earring. Well, I guess St. Anthony must have been smiling down that day. Because lo and behold, I did find the earring! Not even stepped on! Did I mention that the earrings were screw backs? I told my mother that as soon as we got back hoome, we were going to the jewelry store and having the earrings converted to pierced. And she did. I no longer have my mother. But I do have her beautiful marcasite earrings.

    One other lost story: My mother had wanted a pair of small earrings, so I bought her a pair of tiny gold ones. At some point, I notieced that she hadn't worn them in a very long time. I asked her why not. She finally admitted that she'd lost one of them. I scoured the house, with no success. Then I went back to her bedroom, flashlight in hand. I figured since it was gold, it might glisten. No success. Finally, I decided to give it one more time. I got down on the floor, into "snake" mode (on ny belly) and directed the flashlight all around. Finally - success! A glisten in, of all places, the place where the wall met the baseboard. The molding strip had been removed, along with the wall-to-wall carpet, after my father had died. The earring was in a tiny crevice, and I had to dig it out with a bobby pin. But it was worth it!

    I could also mention that I found my sister's long lost sapphire ring at the back of a pantry closet. It had been lost for a year. Now, if I could just find the "lost" things that my moehter managed to hide away...forever....

  3. I lost my engagement ring not too long after receiving it. No idea how, since I hadn't removed it. I was devastated because I knew the sacrifices my intended had made to buy it. I couldn't imagine how he'd feel when I told him. Rather than facing that, I bought one to replace it. Took me two years to pay for it. Never found the first one, and never regretted the subterfuge. He died not knowing the only secet I ever kept from him. That was fifty years ago. And for him I'd do it all over again.

  4. These stories are sort of heart wrenching. I lost my most precious piece of jewelry--a nice diamond ring that my father had given my mother. I had prized it mightily because they had both died very young and it was a keepsake of both. Alas, I never found it, and it hurts to say that to this day. Glad your luck was better.

  5. I guess if I've lot it, it's gone! Envy you finding the bar mitzvah ring.

  6. On an escalator, I heard/felt something ping and realized later I was missing one of my small oval jade earrings. They were one of the first earrings I owned after I got my ears pierced in the 8th grade, so I was not a happy camper over losing one of the pair. But a few days later, I found the earring on the floor of my closet. Instead of disappearing into the bowels of the escalator, it must have gotten caught in my clothes. I still wear the pair, but make sure the backs are tight when I do!

    Another story - my mother lost her wedding set, a small diamond solitaire surrounded by a substantial enhancer set with tiny stones. After searching everywhere, she accepted that it was gone and bought a new, modern band. Almost a year later, cleaning out the freezer, she found the original set, which must have slipped off her finger in the frigid space. She wore the original set and the new ring became a "right-hand" ring.

    And a cautionary tale: a friend of mine from college lost the diamond from her engagement ring while mowing the yard. She and her new husband searched the entire expanse of grass on hands and knees, but never did find the stone. There may have been a problem with the setting, or it may simply have been that the vibrations of the mower knocked the stone loose. So don't mow your lawn wearing your rings. Or, don't mow your lawn!

  7. That was very surprising! Well, some things just really pop up where we least expected it to. But you’re lucky that you were still able to find it, thinking that it was lost for weeks. I guess we could thank St. Anthony for that. Cheers!

    Sheila Olson @ Spath Jewelers