This story begins on a beautiful day in September. My wedding day to be precise. We spent fifteen months planning, and a lifetime dreaming of, what this day would look like. I had my new dress and my blue shoes to cover half of superstition and my mom’s heirloom ring for old and borrowed.
The weather was cooperating, the bridesmaids were beautiful, and everyone was happy. After spending the morning getting ready together, it was time for the bridesmaids, the flower girl, and my mother to leave the apartment we had rented and head out the reception site, a local marina, for photos with our photographer. We pulled up in front of the dock and all piled out of the vehicle ready for more fun. The photographer suggested a few bridal portraits on the docks before taking the group photos.
I walked out onto the dock holding my dress up. I let my dress drop and froze as I heard an awful sound. My mother’s ring had fallen off my hand and hit the dock. As I looked toward the sound, I saw the even more horrifying sight of the ring bouncing off the dock and ripples in the water below.
The photographer and I were alone on the dock and both stood, bent over double, staring at the rippling water, willing the ring to float in stunned silence. One of the bridesmaids, realizing that something must be wrong, walked over, and I said the words out loud for the first time, “My mom’s ring just fell into the river.” Suddenly there was a blur of navy as all six bridesmaids started running in different directions having no earthly idea what to do.
My mother, who apparently realized that running bridesmaids did not bode well, hurried over to find out what had happened. She had an instant look of panic, but kept herself together and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get a diver.” The DJ and the owner of the marina ventured over and agreed that the ring would be found.
I managed to pull myself together to take the pre-wedding photos, but constantly had the ring in the back of my mind. We even took a picture pointing to the spot where the ring had fallen hoping that one day this would all be a funny joke.
At this point I knew very little about the ring except that it was passed to my mother by paternal grandmother. I have since learned that the original owner of the ring was Alfonso Chiara, my grandmother’s grandfather. He gave it Carmela, his future wife, on their engagement sometime around 1880 in Italy, shortly before they immigrated to the United States. My mother is the 4th generation this ring has been passed down to.
Roland and I survived the wedding without too much focus on what I had lost, then flew out the next day to Germany to start out honeymoon. You would think Oktoberfest and Neuschwanstein would be enough to distract us, but we texted several times to find out the progress of the search, the ring always in the back of our minds. My mom initially replied with news that there was a diver, then later that they had a new idea, then, “We’ll tell you about it when you get home.” Not exactly what we wanted to hear.
The story we received upon our return is that the Monday after the wedding, a diver went searching for the ring. After over an hour he came up with nothing but apologies. He even waved his fee because he felt so bad about it. The same day, following the diver’s fruitless search, my mom’s cousin brought out a set of old fashioned oyster tongs. Having owned the marina for the past 30 years, he had found countless lost items using this method in the past. He dug the area for an hour before passing the tongs to my dad and a family friend who continued to dig and sift through the mud.
Not ready to give up hope, I started looking into underwater metal detectors. A close friend, Cory, a groomsman in our wedding, told us he had access to dive gear and was willing to make a search attempt for the ring if I ordered a metal detector.
My plan was to rent one online, but due to our time constraints and the progressively colder weather, the rental plus overnight shipping was cost prohibitive. I ordered a low cost underwater detector from Amazon that was guaranteed to arrive on time and hoped for the best. Cory met his coworker and my dad at the marina. This was our best hope! An hour of joint searching, followed by an hour of warm up time, and then another hour underwater by Cory alone led to a mild case of hypothermia. Still no ring.
Thankfully, determination and a treasure hunting soul were not deterred by the hypothermia. The original metal detector repeatedly pinged under the dock, but identified too large an area for one person to dig alone. At Cory’s request, we returned the original metal detector and ordered a pin pointer detector in its place. He scheduled a second visit to the marina only a few days later, on what happened to be my mother’s birthday, intending to meet up with my Dad and his friend. He arrived before his friend, met up with my dad and went into the water with the new metal detector. Less than five minutes passed before my Dad looked up to the sound of a noise erupting from underwater. Cory had not yet broken the surface of the water when his shouts of triumph could be heard.
Buried in silt, in the exact spot it had fallen four weeks prior, the ring was found! I received this picture while I was at work and literally jumped out of my chair shouting. My co-workers swarmed out of their offices to see this incredible photo as they had all heard the progression of the story since our return from our honeymoon. This celebration was real! My mother agreed when we met her for birthday dinner that this was the best birthday present she has ever received! We are so thankful for this find.