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“Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life”. This quote has been very meaningful to me these past few weeks.
Two weeks ago my boyfriend went to propose to me. We were at the beach where we regularly spend time together and walk our dog. He went out for a quick surf and I met him about calf-deep in the water as he came in, as I love to do and greet him, and to put our dog on the board for a surf into shore. At that moment he went to pull an engagement ring out of his pocket, unbeknownst to me, and sure enough as it was pinched in his fingers a small wave came behind him and swept it away. I know what you’re thinking…he surfed with it?! But that wasn’t the problem or how it was lost; he’s surfed with his keys and valuables for years in a secure floatable enclosure in his board shorts. I didn’t know what was happening, I just saw a look of devastation cross his face and I knew something was wrong.
This article isn’t about the lost ring or the happy moment gone wrong, it is about the amazing people we have crossed paths with since that moment. Our story was put on the morning news, and since then complete strangers have been reaching out to us to offer their help in finding the ring. It would take pages to write about every great friend, family member, and Good Samaritan who has expressed concern and offered help.
Don, a Vietnam war veteran, drove 30 minutes north from his home in Bonita and met us at 1:00 a.m. in the morning with his special waterproof metal detector equipment to help Michael search. Don has been married to his wife for 39 years. Don took time away from caring for his wife who has cancer to help us. Anthony, a father of two children about our age, spent his 4th of July at the beach with us offering his time and his one-of-a-kind metal detector equipment to help Michael search. Anthony found his son-in-law’s ring in the water in Coronado, and was hoping to do the same for us. As our luck would have it, Anthony got stung by a stingray while searching. I can’t begin to explain how awful I felt at that moment (fortunately he is ok), but I can tell you that it has built a friendship that allowed us to share great stories that day, and he surely will be at our wedding when the time comes. We will also forever be thankful to the wonderful people we’ve met who have offered their professional services at no cost to us and spent very early mornings helping Michael search at the beach (if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, please visit theringfinders.
We decided it was time to move on, ring or no ring, and try to enjoy our engagement.
Eleven days after the ring was lost, I received a phone call at work from Don. I will never forget his words “Christine, this is Don, I’m at the beach and I found your ring. May you please describe it to me?” I was in complete shock, started crying, as did my coworkers Taunya and Marcia. I can only imagine what we all looked like to an outsider, because there was shock, laughter, and tears, but it was great to share those tears of happiness. I called Michael, rushed down to the beach, and there we met Don. Sure enough, he found the ring. Don told us he woke up at 5 am that morning, checked the tides, and decided he had to give it one last chance metal detecting before the tides changed again. He spent two hours down there searching before he found the ring, 9 inches deep, exactly where we thought it was lost. He said it likely had been deeper and got churned up to a detectable level after the weather and tide change.
I can tell you that the fact the ring was found just stunned me, but what continuously brought tears to my eyes was Don. We did not know he was searching that morning. He went out at his own free will, for me and Michael, who he had only recently met. The craziest part? He was hesitant to even accept a reward from us, we had to insist. For him the enjoyment was in seeing our happiness, and a mission accomplished in locating the ring that he knew scientifically had to still be there. Michael “re-proposed” on DRY land, and the three of us went on the news together the next morning to tell our happy ending. We are forever grateful to Don, and his wife Kay. He has touched the hearts of so many people. Kindness truly is everything.
Christine Ellingsen is a Northern California native now practicing law as an estate planning attorney in Carmel Valley San Diego at the Barger Law Group, APC. She spent a year in New York working in the business sector before moving to Southern California to attend law school at the University of San Diego. She is happy to have started her law career in San Diego and to now call Encinitas home, where she keeps busy between exploring Coastal North County and training her new puppy.