ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — They picked out their matching wedding rings at a small jewelry store in Downtown Albuquerque, but in selecting them, Ann Merewether had not considered how airborne a ring might become, how attractive it might be to wildlife should it someday be catapulted – inadvertently, of course – skyward.
Had Merewether known, she might have prepared herself for the upsetting liberation of her precious ring before it sailed along its trajectory that afternoon in 1964 during a game of backyard basketball with her husband, David, and their three children.
“I got the ball a good distance from the goal, raised it high into the air, released it toward the goal,” she recalled. “And my wedding band went with it.”
She heard the plink of the ring hitting the wooden fence between her yard and the neighbors’ property to the south, and maybe for a moment she convinced herself that the ring would be easy to find within the confines of the family’s small backyard on 14th near Fruit NW.
They searched the yard, lush with a spreading pear tree and a grape arbor, for the silver band adorned with a thin curve of diamond chips. After sunset, the search continued with flashlights, but to no avail.
“The next morning I got up and looked out the window toward the area of the lost ring, and there were a number of robins there on the ground searching for food,” she said. “I can imagine that one of the birds found the ring and flew off with it to their nest.”
She didn’t give up on finding the ring, her theory of fowl filching notwithstanding. Years later, a metal detector was employed in the search.
The 14th Street home had been the first house for the Merewethers, who married June 12, 1958, a day after she had graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in home economics.
He was not far behind, attending UNM after his years as a Marine and obtaining degrees in math and electrical engineering, followed by a job at Sandia National Laboratories and then federal defense contracting work with his wife.
His mother had introduced the two of them.
“She thought I was a good prospect for marriage,” David said.
But Ann wasn’t altogether sold on him at first.
“It was something to do,” she said with a chuckle, “until the night he said ‘I love you.’ ”
That love endures to this day, with both of them in their 80s, married now for nearly 63 years. Their three children have given them seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren and a lifetime of memories, many of them created in the 14th Street house.
In 1971, the family moved, leaving the ring and the robins behind. Eventually, the old ring was replaced with a new sparkler featuring bigger diamonds.
But it could never fully replace that old ring. She still sometimes pulls out her husband’s matching one, which no longer fits him, from its special box and wears it on her thumb.
Then on Valentine’s Day she read a wire story in the Journal about a Chicago woman whose wedding ring was recently returned to her 48 years after she lost it in a snowdrift.
Merewether’s ring has been missing for nearly 57 years.
So it got her to thinking again that maybe her old ring might still be returned to her someday just like the ring in Chicago. She has hope again.
And we have you, dear readers.
Take a good look at the ring in the photo. Perhaps you found it years ago and had no idea who it belonged to. Perhaps a benevolent robin gave it to you, a shiny thing falling from the sky.
“It was not an expensive ring, but very sentimental,” Merewether said.
It’s just a ring, the one that flew away. But it was her ring. And that makes it priceless.
UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Reach Joline at 730-2793, email@example.com, Facebook or @jolinegkg on Twitter.