A 2014 Goal – Accomplished

20141231_163827I started out this year wanting to reach a GeoCaching “threshold”.  I wanted to reach a “landmark” find. 

I had my eye set on 400.  Throughout the year I was slowly making my way towards that number, but then trailed off.  After leaving deer hunting camp this year, I planned a massive push to find a slew of GeoCaches in and around the area I hunt, and by the time it was all said and done, I was WELL within the reach of my goal!

But, after a few more finds, I stagnated out and have been stalled at 399 finds for a while now.  I kept putting off that last find, thinking there was always going to be time to find it.  Days turned into weeks, and the weeks kept piling up. 

The saving grace was that I did not have to work on New Years Eve – so in the back of my mind, I always had one last minute option, but it didn’t help that I had Backside of Forty pressuring mocking inspiring me to achieve my goal.

Well, I took it down to the wire.  I waited until 30 minutes before sundown to actually head out.  I loaded up my GPS.  I grabbed my current inventory of Travel Bugs and Geo Coins, I took #4 of 5 and #5 of 5 with me and we ventured out into the sub zero wind chill. 

The GeoCache I planned was less than a mile from my house.  I had found the matching cache a couple of months previously, so I was pretty confident.  We parked the car and headed out to the “beacon”.

There, in the cold wind, with the silo as our backdrop – and my trusty daughters #4 of 5 and #5 of 5 beside me for support – I found my four-hundredth GeoCache, and achieved my GeoCaching goal for 2014! 

With This Ring…

IMG_3354For the past 21 years(+), my left ring finger has been adorned by a simple gold wedding band.

I still recall shopping for it.  I liked the look of some of the more “ornate” rings (rings with small stones embedded in them) but, being the “practical” guy I am, I was really planning on a simple plain gold band – so in reality the “shopping” was really quite simple.

Once I selected band that I liked, the only real option was something called “comfort fit”.

 


comfort-fit-example
In a nutshell, a “comfort cut” wedding band is one designed using extra metal, making it slightly domed on the inside of the band. 
This results in a far more comfortable fitting ring.



Originally, I was going to skip the whole “comfort fit” upgrade, and just go for the least expensive option.  That’s just how I roll.  It was the Mother of Five who actually pressured me into considering the comfort cut once I admitted how much more comfortable it really felt on my finger.  I succumbed to her pressure, and “splurged” on myself.

On our wedding day, the Mother of Five presented me the ring, and (for 99.9% of the time that has passed since) there it has remained.  Only once had I lost this ring.


It was our first year of marriage.  We were living in an apartment with one parking stall, and two cars.  I allowed the Mother of Five to park her car in the heated underground garage, while I parked my car outside. 

ringOne winter morning, I came out to find a flat tire on my car.  This was no big problem for me.  I pulled the spare tire, and changed the flat right there in the parking lot before heading out to conduct my business.  Not long afterwards I noticed that the ring was no longer on my finger.  Assuming I lost it in the snow while changing my tire, I headed back to the spot, and began a fruitless hour long search, coming up with nothing.  I was devastated.

Miraculously, about two weeks later (as the snow was melting), I just happened to be walking by the spot I had changed my tire when I glanced down and spotted the ring just surfacing from the snow bank! 

You cannot begin to imagine my surprise and relief!
(Yup.  Satellite photo of the exact spot!)


Time has since marched on (and “fatherhood” has taken hold - think “sympathy weight”).   Since I did a little “expanding” in the years since I received it, my ring has also need a little “expanding” of its own.  I have had it resized, which has worked out pretty well – at least until I began a gradual loss of some of that weight a couple of years back.  Now the ring fits much looser than it has in years.  It is most noticeable in the cold and when my hands are wet.  I am very cautious because in these circumstances - the ring just “falls” off my finger.

Then, this happened…

A few days ago I came home from a long day at work.  One of my tasks was to prepared a piece of furniture we were selling on Craigslist for the buyer who agreed to pick it up that evening. Getting the furniture ready included some organizing and long term storage (for items like my deer hunting gear that had “landed” on top of it).  Once the cleaning / organizing was done, and the furniture was ready to go, I headed back inside, and booted up Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 to help pass the time while I waited for the buyer to arrive. 

About an hour into building a new park, I noticed that…
MY WEDDING RING WAS MISSING FROM MY FINGER!! 

20141206_115331I nearly lost my breath!

Periodically, I take my ring off at work and set it on my keyboard.  But when I do this, my hands (which are very much accustomed to the muscle memory of high speed typing under stress) feel “different” when I type.  I can immediately sense that the ring is not on my hand.  I had not recalled that feeling or remember taking my ring off during my work day. 

In this case, I had NO IDEA when I last saw the ring.  There was no “obvious” moment that it could have come off.

I began hyperventilating as my search of the most obvious areas (pants, pockets, work bag etc) and the few areas of the house that I was in since arriving home (garage, bathroom, kitchen, and family room) proved fruitless.  I called my workplace to have them keep an eye out. 

I checked everywhere I had been, most areas twice, and even some areas three times.  I was not finding what I sought.  I tried calling the Mother of Five to see if she may know where it was (like maybe I set it down somewhere), but she was not answering her cell phone.

With no where else to turn, I sent a text message to a couple of sources of strength when I am stressed.  Best Bud Ed and Backside of Forty – both being sympathetic to my cause, and both helping out in their own way – but it was Best Bud Ed’s suggestion that did the trick.

Best Bud Ed called me up after I failed to reply to a barrage of messages he sent off.  He & I traced my steps back from the moment I got home.  I got out of the car, I worked in the garage, I came in the house, used the bathroom, kitchen, then sat in the living room.  With Best Bud Ed on the phone (to help keep me from “kooking” out) I started in the car, then went to the garage where he told me to check the hunting bin that I stored my hunting clothing out.

IMG_3358I was reluctant at first – it seemed so unlikely, but I agreed to do it (if, for no other reason than to check it off my mental list of places I had checked).  I pulled my deer hunting backpack out, then I pulled out my blaze orange jumpsuit.  I went through the pockets of the jumpsuit, and ripped my way through the backpack.  I didn’t see anything.  I started packing it all back when Best Bud Ed suggested I keep the bag out, and bring it in the house to go through later.  I thought it sounded a little crazy, but I had nothing to loose, and so I brought it in the house.



I spent the next 30 or so minutes aimlessly walking around the house in a desperate and vein attempt to locate the ring.  I kept hoping that I overlooked it, and that it would pop up in a place I  had already searched.  I was doing my best trying to talk to Best Bud Ed on the phone while I searched and while I racked my brain to try and remember what I may have done with the ring. 

The phone rang.  Was it work??!?!  Did they find the ring??!  Oh, man – did I hope so!

Nope.  It was the Mother of Five.  Time to face the music.  I was almost in tears at the point I told her what had transpired.  Sensing my desperation (and I suspect wanting to avoid my manic / obsessive compulsive tirade she knew she would be facing when she got home), she tried her best to calm me, and told me not to worry.


By this point, I was convinced I would never see the ring again.  Unlike the first time I lost then ring (when we were first married) it was the thought of being out the money that upset me most.  Twenty-one years later (twenty-one years of blood, sweat, tears, good times and bad, sickness and health, for better and for worse) – I cared little about the money.  That ring was part of ME!  The sentimental value had far surpassed the monetary value of that ring!

I hung up the phone, and in a moment of mental exhaustion, I flopped down in our living room chair.  Sitting next to me (mocking me) was that damn hunting bag that Best Bud Ed told me I should bring in.  What was nothing more that an an attempt to occupy my mind, I reached down, grabbed the bag, unzipped it and started taking each and every item out.  I went through each item with a fine tooth comb – and AGAIN, came up empty handed. 

Then, just as I started stuffing everything back in the bag, there at bottom of the now empty bag, was a small simple gold band.  It almost looked “lonely” there in the bottom of the bag.

 IMG_3356

My knees almost buckled from under me.  The feeling of relief was beyond words.

I FOUND MY RING!!

I can only conclude that the ring had slipped off my finger (which was constricted by the cold) as I pulled my hand out of the bag after stuffing the hunting items I had left out on the furniture I was getting ready to sell.  Had it not been for Best Bud Ed’s instance that I bring the bag inside to go over again later, I would have likely driven myself MAD between now and next deer hunting season.

This ring that started out as being monetarily significant to me, and (over the past twenty-one years) had metamorphosed into something much more meaningful.  Much more symbolic.  Much more important to me.  It has become a symbol of my love for my wife.  My love for my children.  My love for my family.  All the things that money can not buy. 

The lesson (for me) in all of this is that I was reminded about just how fortunate a man I am.  Even if I had lost the ring forever, I still hold the TRULY important items close to me.  The truly important things that the SYMBOL (the ring) represents in my life.


Yes.  I am very fortunate to have the items the ring symbolizes in my life, but, I am also very grateful to have the small token symbol of those items (the ring) back on my finger.

And for that, I thank you St. Anthony.

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