Old love, Old love letters, and a Lost Ring
Like many old, retired people, Lydia and I have been “downsizing”. No, we aren’t in a hurry to leave the house we have lived in for over thirty years now. But we are trying to declutter. We have given away masses of old books, and it was time now to have a go at our filing cabinets and the reams of old papers and letters lodged within. And discovered that we weren’t quite ready to throw all of them away after all.
Old love letters, that is. Wow.
We were engaged to be married in April. Our wedding date was August 1. But after we finished our school year at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg in June, Lydia headed East to help on her family’s farm in Niagara, Ontario and I headed West to our farm in Rosemary, Alberta. We would not see each other for a couple of months until a few days before our wedding. So, we wrote love letters to each other.
No, I will not make them public. Except for one story that jumped out at me - a story of crisis proportions.
In those days I couldn’t afford bus or train tickets. I got a ride with Saskatchewan students that got me as far as Swift current, Saskatchewan, after a detour through Saskatoon. We left Winnipeg in two cars. I squeezed my suitcase into the only available space in car number one. As it happened, that car only went as far as Saskatoon. The other car, with me in it, headed off to Swift current – without my suitcase. From there I would hitch-hike home – minus that suitcase.
Alas. In April I had given my beloved the engagement ring. The matching wedding ring was in that suitcase. I put it there to be sure I wouldn’t lose it. Alas. The suitcase was shipped to Rosemary via the CPR. It never arrived. Our CPR station agent kept the telegraph wires hot in Its pursuit. No luck.
The day before our wedding I bought a rather cheap replacement wedding ring. At least we did get married.
Fast forward to a brutally cold November day back in Winnipeg, six months later. Two burly CPR agents stand at our door – with my suitcase. It has been found in a warehouse in Vancouver. Now Lydia has two wedding rings. But not for all that long.
The next year we are living near Sudbury, Ontario, where I am the pastor of Waters Mennonite Church. We make a week-end trip to Niagara to visit Lydia’s parents. We return home to discover thieves have broken into our house. They didn’t take all that much – some coins I was collecting, and the cheap wedding ring used for our wedding. So now we were back to only one wedding ring. Is there a message in this somewhere?
The wedding ring saga continued. A few years later we are in London, Ontario. I am doing a year of clinical pastoral education there. One day the diamond in Lydia’s wedding ring – the ring not used at our wedding – disappears, unnoticed by her, down the bath tub drain. Alas.
Is there a moral to this tragic story? Hardly. Except that I am writing this saga on Valentines Day, a day dedicated to love. Despite our ring misadventures, our love and our marriage, feel strong, feel blessed, feel worth celebrating some 55 years later.