Meadville Tribune

April 9, 2013

Returned ring a testament to goodness of human spirit

By Rebecca Sekerski
Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — The daily rush of our selfish lives has a way of undermining the fact that there are still some amazing personalities that touch our lives in ways we least expect. Some of these actions go well above the ordinary and speak volumes of character not often experienced in this age of “what’s in it for me?” This is a story of two individuals whom obviously live their lives in a far different fashion.

I am a provider at a local health care facility. Besides doing what I love on a full-time basis, I also like to get my hands dirty rehabbing old houses. Last spring, while recovering from knee surgery, I spent my every spare moment painstakingly stripping a hundred years worth of paint from our bedroom’s five windows and three doorways. In the fall, my husband, Doug, and I were repainting both inside and out a community eyesore. As a result, I frequently have rough, dry hands. Even though I often wear gloves in both of my lines of work, it is a constant battle to keep my hands in reasonable condition, and I go through volumes of my favorite Vitamin E cream.

Every night at bedtime, I remove my wedding ring and coat my hands thoroughly, sometimes even wearing cotton gloves to bed, just to keep my hands from breaking down. However, between the glove-wearing at home and at work and the fact I remove my ring each night for my hand-repairing therapy, I somehow misplaced my diamond ring last year.

My husband and I searched for days. Once we came to the realization in November that my ring was nowhere to be found, I reluctantly reported it to my insurance provider. I did not immediately go look for a new one as I was too upset and hoped to find the original back. However, time and projects went by, making that less and less likely.

During this same time frame last fall, I had the privilege of caring for a retired couple, Chet and Nancy Terrill, with a skin condition. It took a couple of visits to get their condition under control and by the time it was, they were both suffering a bad case of dry winter skin. Realizing it was going to be a long, itchy season for them if we couldn’t get that under control, I decided to just give them some of my wonderful Vitamin E cream. I used a tongue depressor to scoop off the top the cream into another container and provided them with the original container, so that if they decided it was a product they wanted to continue using, they had all the necessary information for doing so. They did not return, so I was hopeful they had found a solution to their dry skin issue.

Christmas and the New Year came and went as my husband and I continued building and repairing, and we finally realized the ring was not going to show up. Due to insurance deadlines, I finally began seriously looking for a new ring the week of Valentine’s Day. Having purchased the original ring from John Kerr of Jeron’s, he offered to search for a replacement at an upcoming jewelry show. It was a tough request, as the ring had been very non-traditional in format.

An unexpected visit

Nine days after Valentine’s Day, the Terrills showed up at my workplace stating they needed to speak to me. I was quite busy with patient care while they sat quietly in the waiting room for a moment of my time. I sent two staff members out to see what could be done to assist them, but they just smiled smugly and said, “We will wait until we can talk to Rebecca.”

I hurried as best I could; almost an hour after their arrival, I was able to slip out to the waiting room to see what was so important they couldn’t share with anyone else. They had made it quite clear it was a non-patient issue, and I could sense some expectation or excitement when I approached. I opened the conversation by asking if they were continuing to have problems, and they quickly stated they were not and that they had loved the cream I provided them with and had used it all.

Clarence nervously tapped Nancy on the knee as she looked for something in her purse. After expressing how happy they were with their care, Clarence proceeded to ask me if I had lost anything precious to me recently. The hair stood up on the back of my neck as I swallowed the thought of my ring. I replied that I had lost my wedding diamond approximately four months previously. Clarence immediately asked what it looked like and as I tried to describe it, my brain was scrambling as to how these two could possibly have my ring.

Nancy quickly chimed in that they had used every bit of the cream I had provided them. She went on to state just two days previously, she had reached in to clean the last bit of cream out of the jar when she hooked onto a round metal object. First, she thought it was the washer off a spigot. She called Clarence to her side and together they cleaned it up and realized it was, indeed, a diamond ring.

“We didn’t know if it would be yours or perhaps from someone at the factory where the cream was processed, but we knew if we asked you, we’d find out,” Nancy said.

As I dropped to my knees in front of them and fought back tears of joy, Nancy pulled a baggie from her purse containing my precious wedding ring. It must have flipped right into the jar as I removed my gloves the day I provided the cream to them. I couldn’t wait to tell my husband.

True hero character

I was in total awe for so many reasons. First was the fact that they had actually found the ring. So many things might have happened that would have prevented such. They could have thrown the cream away or even put it in a cupboard and forgot about it. Even more importantly, they could have easily taken the ring to market and walked away with a pocket full of cash. But that thought never even crossed their minds. Instead, they couldn’t wait to return it to the rightful owner. And they were thrilled to do so. I have always said that everyday actions can speak volumes of one’s character. Here was shining example of true hero character in duplicate. How could I have been so fortunate to have such wonderful souls cross my path?

Needless to say, the Terrills will always hold a very special place in our hearts. Ironically, Kerr contacted me two days later to say he had a ring for me to look at. I dropped by and was wowed by the similarities of the ring he found at the jewelry show; I pulled my hand from my pocket and asked him how he thought they compared. Despite the lost sale, neither he nor his wife could hide their joy as I related the story of the Terrills’ goodness. I have told the story too many times to count and feel it is something worth truly celebrating: this lifestyle of quiet gallantry. They will always be heroes to me: A testament of the goodness of the human spirit.

Sekerski is a Meadville resident.