As most of you have gathered by now, today (12/22) is my birthday. Been around for a while but I seem to remember most or all of them and what happened during each. BUT - one birthday, for obvious reasons, is, absolutely, the most memorable. The year - 2003 - was not a particularly good one. The early part of that year I lost my mom to Alzheimer's and later in the year my marriage of 17 years came to an abrupt end. Going into Christmas of 2003, I was not exactly the happiest person.
Now, to set the rest of this all up, I have to take you back to the mid-70's when I was an impressionable young DJ in South Georgia. My mom and dad would occasionally come to visit and my dad and I would usually manage to squeeze in a golf game. On this particular day, it was very humid so I would always remove my college ring for fear of my fingers swelling when I played in that type of weather. That day, I placed the ring in the gold cart's open glove compartment. After we completed the round and started gathering our belongings, I noticed the ring was missing. My dad and I searched and searched, retracing step after step, but to no avail. I left a message at the front desk of the pro shop just in case the ring was found. This was my college graduation ring complete with fraternity insignia on the stone. I would have to say it was one of my most prized possessions. Unfortnately, nothing came back to the pro shop (or, at least, we thought) so my ring was gone for good. For close to 10 years, my sweet mother tried to get the ring replaced as a birthday gift but the expsne was just too much because it was a ring that had to made. None from 1972 were in stock. At one point, mom told me that she had tried but had to give up so I guess I just moved on from there and the ring became just am memory to me. Now, mond you, mom always.....and, I mean, ALWAYS, had to make sure I had a great birthday, as close to Christmas as it is.
Fast forward to early December 2003. I was single again, living alone. I come home from work one night to find a letter in my mailbox from the Penn State (my alma mater) Registrar's office. My first thought was that I owed the school money somehow. I opened the letter and noticed a handwritten note attached to an official letter from the registar which said "We think this ring may be yours. The inscription described in the attached letter closely resembles your name from that graduation year." Imagine my anticipation!!!.....after all these years!! I read the handwritten note from a man who lives in Rome, Georgia who says he found this ring and he wanted to get it back to the rightful owner. Now, the anticipation was turning into sheer joy. I knew I needed to find this person right away. The next morning I was able to get a phone number from information and I called and this very man answered. Turns out he lived next to the golf pro of the golf course in that South Georgia town back then. The gold pro found the ring on the course and saw that it was a Penn State ring. Well, his neighbor (this man) was a Penn State grad, so he brought it to him thinking he would be able to find the owner in a much, quicker fashion. The man held on to the ring and vowed to find the owner for quite some time but, then, life happened, and the ring wound up in a box for 18 years and 3 moves. Then, in the fall of 2003, while watching a special news story about a Vietnam veteran who was reunited with his fiance due to a found engagement ring, he decided to find the rightful owner of the class ring. Which brings us to the day we talked. He promised he would mail the ring that day (December 15th to be exact) and he did. 5 days later, I arrived at home to find a box in my mailbox postmarked Rome, Georgia. I couldn't get that box open fast enough. There it was - my 1972 Penn State class ring and my name inscribed on the inside. I tried it on and it fit as if I'd never lost it. I had my ring back - this time for good.
As I reflected on the events of the past week, I began to realize something which hit me, like a hurricane, head on. My mom always wanted me to have that ring as a birthday present and, here I am, just a day and a half before my birthday and I have the ring.......on the first birthday I won't share with my mother. But, knowing this four-foot-eleven, one-hundred-pound dynamo, I'm guessing that her first order of business with God was to make sure I got that ring on my birthday. Mom continued to make my birthday as special as ever. I believe that as how it happened and always will. Too many coincidences....too many events relating to it.
So, if you've lost someone close to you recently, or for that matter, ever, rest assured, you haven't "lost" them. They are there with you, watching over you, helping guide you through life. Since that day, I have felt my mother's presence on a daily basis. MY guardian angel. Who is yours?