I really enjoyed the recent news item about the return of a 1969 Super Bowl ring to the player who lost it on Waikiki Beach over 40 years ago. That's the kind of story we sentimental fools adore. It gives us hope that someday we, too, might be reunited with a long-lost love. That maybe the one that got away didn't go away for good. Whether it's a lover, a friend or a treasured memento, we all have something from our past that we hope to see in our future.
Sometimes, the long-lost item is long forgotten as well. That doesn't make the reunion any less sweet.
My father graduated from Maui High School in 1950, the old H-poko campus with the beautiful mission-style buildings designed by the noted C.W. Dickey and the rolling green lawn shaded by spreading banyan trees. It was on that lawn, on the day the Class of '50 received their class rings, my dad was horsing around with his pals and lost the ring off his finger. He searched for days, but the ring never turned up.
Twenty-two more classes, maybe 7,000 teenagers in all, horsed around on that same lawn until the school closed its doors in 1972, and not one of them ever came across Daddy's ring. The University of Hawaii's tropical agriculture program moved onto the old campus but the main building went unused and gradually fell into disrepair.
One day, I think it was in 1988, a woman who was living and working at the UH facility found the ring while clearing a spot for a garden near the main building. The ring had the class year on it, of course, and it's a good thing my dad paid the extra money to have his initials engraved on it as well. Unlike the folks who found John Schmitt's Super Bowl ring and, not realizing its significance, tucked it away for decades, this woman made it her mission to find the rightful owner of this buried treasure. She searched out a 1950 MHS yearbook and, after a few false starts, connected with my dad.
After the ring was returned, my mom wore it on a chain around her neck. Coincidentally, she had lost her class ring too. Actually, she lost hers even before she had it.
As an 8th-grader at Makawao School, Mom and her classmates were given the opportunity to order class rings and pay for them in installments. The week the school secretary started taking ring orders, Mom won $25 in a Bingo game and excitedly used the money to pay for her ring. She was the first one to place an order and the only one to pay in full.
Months later, near the end of the school year, the rings arrived but there was none for my mom. Because she was the only one who paid upfront, her name had gone on a different list, on a different sheet of paper - one that got placed in the secretary's desk drawer and forgotten by the time the orders were sent to the Mainland. Mom was so disappointed. Technically, you can't lose what you never had, but that doesn't keep you from missing it. So it was pretty cool that the finding of my dad's ring would fulfill my mom's youthful desire.
I've lost my class ring and my wedding ring as well, from my second marriage. Kelly and I lived in Honolulu and occasionally played softball with friends at Moiliili Neighborhood Park. At bat on this particular day, my wedding ring was cutting into my finger each time I connected with the ball. So I took it off and, having no pockets (or common sense, apparently), I tied the ring onto my shoelace and stepped back into the batter's box.
I actually hit a single that day, and completely forgot about the ring on my shoelace until after the game, while we were enjoying sunset refreshments. By then I'd been all over the field and beyond. We combed the infield and outfield with flashlights, went back the next day and searched some more, placed ads in the newspapers, all to no avail.
I don't expect I'll ever get that ring back, and I don't really care. The marriage only lasted another couple of years anyway. And I don't even remember when or where I lost my class ring. If I'm to be reunited with something I've lost, I'd rather it be my senior yearbook, loaned out 35 years ago and never returned. Or the set of Barbie dolls I wish I'd never given away. Or, as long as we're dreaming, the bodacious body and perfect skin of youth. But then again, you can't lose what you never had.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.