The Ring

In Gary’s Storiesby Gary

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Preface:

A miracle is not always front page news, a trending tweet, or a viral video on Facebook.  Sometimes it is an ordinary event orchestrated by the Holy Spirit and Angels.  This is a story of such a miracle.

The Ring

I arrived in Reisterstown, MD in mid-afternoon during the Fall of 2007. It had been a long journey from Iowa. My daughter was having surgery the next morning. Her recent test results indicated the need for unexpected surgery. She was waiting for me in the parking lot of the apartment complex as I stepped out of my truck. It had been two years since her mother died and seven years since her sister was killed. Those losses, and the unexpected surgery, placed a great deal of stress on her. We shared a huge hug without noticing a ring had slipped off my daughter’s finger.

Karmin was in college when her sister was killed by a drunk driver. She was in her younger brother’s wedding two days later and then our family prepared for Kim’s funeral. In the days that followed we emptied Kim’s apartment. Each member of the family took mementos to help hold Kim close to our hearts. Karmin, Kim’s only sister, took the jewelry. One ring became a special bond between Karmin and the memory of Kim. Karmin chose to wear that ring everyday.  Unknownst to us, it was  now gone.

After I got settled in Karmin’s apartment, we began preparing for her surgery the next day. She was helping me with maps and detailed driving instructions. The Reisterstown area was not Iowa. Streets were not laid out square with the world. If you missed a turn, you couldn’t just go around the block or the mile.

After supper at a local restaurant, we returned home, and Karmin went to the kitchen to do the dishes that remained in the sink. She reached for her finger to remove the ring. It was gone. The agony was immediate and immense. It was the kind of agony that cuts deep into your heart. She began to search the apartment. She looked in all the usual places; kitchen, bathroom, dresser, nightstand, dining table, end table, desk, recliner, futon, and all over the house. The ring was no where to be found.  Karmin had a broken heart and the stress of tomorrow’s surgery added to the anxiety of the missing ring. She tried to sleep, but little sleep came that night.

There was just enough light from the dawn of the day for me to mentally record landmarks and directions as we drove to the hospital. We found the check-in area and I had to excuse myself. The crab cakes from last night’s supper were applying their revenge, and I needed a restroom quickly. I have a sensitivity to egg yolks. I never dreamed crab cakes would contain eggs. As I entered the bathroom, Karmin was on her way to the surgery prep room.

In a few minutes, I was at Karmin’s side in the prep room. Everything was on schedule, and she was taken to surgery. I retired to the waiting room and settled into a comfy chair. I pulled out my book and turned to the bookmark to commence the two-hour wait.

The nurse emerged from the double doors. The surgery went well and Karmin was in the recovery room. Another nurse would come and get me when she was awake. The recovery went well. We received outpatient instructions for the next two weeks. They included no driving, no lifting, minimal stair climbing, and returning for a checkup.

We returned home. Slowly, one step at a time, Karmin climbed the flight of stairs to her apartment. She got settled into her bed for some much needed rest. I went out to the parking lot in the apartment complex. The parking space next to my truck, where we had hugged, was empty. I looked for the ring, but I could not find it.

The horseshoe shaped parking lot, and the street, surrounded the playground of the apartment complex. A group of boys were kicking footballs in the direction of my truck. I contemplated moving it to prevent a stray football from putting a dent in the hood of my truck. I decided against moving it and returned to the apartment to check on Karmin.

Two days later redness developed around one of the incisions. The doctor’s orders were to contact his office if any redness occurred. The receptionist scheduled an appointment in a half hour. Karmin wanted to ride in her car because entry and exit were easier than my truck. We proceeded to the doctor’s office leaving my truck in the same spot as the day I arrived. The redness was not serious, and we returned home.

We needed some groceries so I took Karmin’s car. Full sized extended cab pickup trucks were a rarity in the city. Parking lots and spaces were not friendly to them. I gathered the groceries and returned to the apartment. Karmin’s parking space was on the opposite side of the driveway from my truck. I glanced at my truck and didn’t notice any dents.

Thunderstorms developed that afternoon with lightning, thunder, and a heavy downpour of rain. An Iowa farm boy would describe it as a gully washer. By the end of the first week Karmin was feeling well enough to carefully navigate the flight of stairs out of the apartment. It was time for laundry. I wanted to take the truck but Karmin preferred her car. We loaded up the laundry and were off to the laundromat. The truck remained in the original parking place.

Karmin’s recovery was progressing ahead of schedule. We decided to tour the B&O Railroad Museum. I enjoyed the steam locomotives and old trains on my last visit two years ago. Rest areas were available if Karmin tired of walking. I drove Karmin’s car and followed her directions to the museum. My truck stayed in its parking space. We had a great time and Karmin didn’t experience any problems.

Karmin continued to improve and decided she wanted to drive to the store. I reiterated the doctor’s orders to wait two weeks. She insisted she was up to it, grabbed the keys, and out the door we went. That behavior is genetic. She got it from her mother. Doctor’s orders to not do something for a specific time period were just a challenge. Her mother always accomplished the activity before the end of the scheduled time period with no adverse consequences. Karmin is her mother.

A few days later I went out to my truck to get some maps to prepare for the trip back to Iowa. I thought about how my truck had sat in the parking place for almost two weeks. That was unusual. I don’t think that truck had ever been motionless for that long. I am always on the go.

I had been thinking about my trip back to Iowa. On the internet I had gathered some information on the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA. I love steam locomotives. This historic site has a large collection including a Big Boy locomotive. I was pondering the extra distance back to Iowa as I was telling Karmin about the museum. She told me to go. She knew the route and said it was any easy trip of three to four hours. She told me to go as I might not have time in the future. Her statement was very prophetic. Many times in my life I had passed up points of interest thinking I would do it the next time. Next time never came. I decided to go to Scranton. A year later Karmin moved to Iowa and I’ve never returned to the Baltimore and Scranton areas.

Karmin’s recovery continued to progress ahead of schedule, and soon it was time for me to head out to Scranton. I loaded the truck, and we began our goodbye hugs. The parking space next to my truck was empty. The same space we had shared our arrival hugs. In the midst of our second hug Karmin suddenly let go and shouted “Oh look.”

As we hugged, Karmin spotted the lost ring under my truck. She retrieved it with tears of joy in her eyes. Her sister’s ring was back on her finger. We just stood their looking at each other. Tears rolled down our cheeks. We hugged again, snuffed our noses, and hugged some more. Since Kim’s death both of us had felt Kim’s presence around us and in our lives. This was another of those occasions.

I don’t believe in coincidences. Things happen for a reason. Events were unfolded for us so that over the course of two weeks my truck never moved from that parking spot; very untypical. The truck had not moved; multiple heavy rains had not washed the ring away; no footballs had dented my truck; I always yielded to Karmin’s wishes to take her car; all of these very untypical. We had been blessed. I will never understand how the relationship of the Holy Spirit and the lives of angels work together, but they had watched out for that ring.

As we prepared for my departure, a hug causes the ring to be found. Our eyes filled with tears. Kim’s presence had been felt again. It was a joy that has to be experienced to appreciate; a joy that cannot be described in words. We were thankful.

In Scranton, I was like a kid in a candy shop. I drooled over all the locomotives, the round house, and the repair shop. I touched, then caressed the locomotives, and photographed them. I imagined being a fireman on a Big Boy. Karmin returned to her teaching job. Both of us knew the Holy Spirit and Kim were watching out for us, and we fondly remember the joy of the moment the ring was found.