Sometimes Pete and I start out to do one thing and end up doing something totally different. Not by choice, of course. Somehow, life just happens. One perfectly beautiful October day, I packed up to head to Kure Beach and Pete said, “Meet me in Wilmington at the jewelers and you can get your wedding ring re-sized while I take care of something else.”
Now, I must regress a bit here just because, even though I’m right brained, I prefer to tell a story in chronological order. It may be my only left brained activity. Anyway, many years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night in great pain. We were staying at the beach and Pete had gone to sleep watching a ballgame on TV. The source of my sleep disturbing pain was obvious. The third finger of my left hand was swollen to incredible proportions. My wide gold wedding band looked like a tourniquet, causing my finger to look like some type of red sausage about to burst from its casing.
Let me tell you, I tried everything imaginable to get that ring off my finger from peanut butter to olive oil to soap. Nothing worked. In fact, the pain grew worse and I began to worry that it might explode. All the while, Pete snored away on the couch. Finally, I knew I had to get help and Pete wasn’t it. I said, louder than usual, “Pete! I’m going to the hospital to get this ring off my finger.”
He said, “Okay.”
Throbbing in pain, my finger held gingerly in the air, I drove the twenty miles to the hospital praying that I wouldn’t be forced to have my finger amputated. I wasn’t sure what the ring finger on my left hand did for me but I was certain it served a much needed purpose as did all my parts.
I learned a lesson that night. If one is forced to use emergency room services, it’s much better, and quicker, to walk in with a really strange problem rather than something normal like pneumonia or a gall bladder attack. It was a fairly slow night in the ER and that helped as well. For one of the very few times in my life, I was the woman of the hour, the star of the show. The entire staff of the New Hanover Memorial Hospital ER joined in the search to solve the mystery of how to get my wedding ring off my finger before the finger started turning colors other than red. Not one soul offered me a pain pill but I quickly gained such camaraderie with the staff that I almost forgot the pain in the delight of solving of the mystery.
Soon after each nurse or whatever used his or her own tried and true method of ring extraction, a nurse who was standing by said, “You know, I was just reading a story in a magazine about this very thing. Now, where did I put that magazine?” She wandered off with her forefinger on her lips and came back reading as she walked. “Okay,” she said to me, “stand by the wall and raise your left arm as high as it will go. Let your arm lean a little on the wall to give support. Then just stand there.”
I obeyed. By then, I had begun to focus on the pain again. It was unavoidable at that point in the evening’s activities. I can’t remember the time it took, but before too long, we all checked my finger and voila! One of the guys pulled my ring off as easy as pie. (Have you ever wondered about that phrase “as easy as pie”? I don’t really get it but it fits here so who cares?) Now that I recall that harrowing night once again, I think that might have been one of the most enjoyable moments the staff of our hospital ever experienced. I know I was one happy camper and after a few hugs, goodbyes and no charge, I whisked back to Kure Beach and to my waiting king-sized bed.
Pete was still asleep on the couch.
Now, one must remember that I said all that to say this: I was never able to get my wedding ring on my finger again and being one who has hardly ever visited a jewelry store in her life, I continued to forget to have the ring resized. For years. That is, until last Christmas when Pete left a note in my stocking asking me to please give him the gift of wearing my wedding ring again before one of us died. And that’s why I drove into Wilmington to meet Pete at the jewelers.
Pete called to give me an address for the GPS and I obediently punched it in. However, because my husband speaks multiconversationally (the ability to carry on five conversations at one time), I was a bit concerned he might have given me someone’s phone number so I very carefully drove west on Market Street looking for the store. I think I was almost there when the blue lights started flashing. I looked into my rearview mirror into the eyes of one of Wilmington’s finest and wondered what on earth he was stopping me for. I had never gotten a ticket in my forty-eight years of driving, a record of which I was extremely proud. Well, except for once when I was taking my little girls to my sister’s house in my bathrobe because I was sick and the speedometer was wrong. But back in those days they had this process in which one could plea to Jesus and the whole deal was wiped from my record. I’m sure that would be politically incorrect these days so I was on my own.
The very polite, shaved-headed policeman—aren’t they all?—said that my vehicle license expired last December and it was now October of the following year. I said, “Oh, my goodness. I didn’t know that.” After asking for my driver’s license and registration card, he went back to his car to “call it in.” In the meantime, I called Pete and asked him, “Do you happen to know why we don’t have 2011 vehicle license on the van?” He had no idea and replied, “I’ll be right there.”
I have no clue how he found us on that heavily trafficked street but he did. Pete happily showed the quiet cop a paper that proved we had a license and the unemotional guy said, “That’s the form to send in for your license.” Somehow, because the thing looks exactly like a registration card, either Pete or I had stuck it in the glove compartment. More than likely, ‘twas I. Pete studied the card again and laughed out loud. The polite policeman did not laugh. He had no sense of humor whatsoever. He did, however, add to the conversation. It just so happened that when he “called it in” he discovered that our vehicle inspection was way past due and, guess what? So were my driver’s license. They were to be renewed by September 15 and it was now October 15.
Pete said, “I remember bringing that notice home.”
I said, “I do, too.”
The policeman, who must have had some type of deformity in that he couldn’t smile, handed me a citation and drove away.
I must say here that my husband is a miracle man, a problem solver of the highest order. Within an hour, we had picked up a form at one DMV office, driven to another DMV office where I got my license reinstated, had the van inspected at another place and had driven back to the first DMV office to get the vehicle license and then stopped over at the jewelry store to leave my wedding ring. The only holdup was deciding whether or not to be an organ donor. When the guy asked me, I replied, “Would anyone want my 65-year-old parts?” He had the same deformity as the policeman and with no personality whatsoever, he said, “I can’t advise you on that.” I said, “Okay, make me a donor. They can browse through and see if anything is usable.”
In the parking lot after all was said and done, while Pete stuck the sticker on the license plate, I said, “Bye, shug.” He gave me a quick hug and I could tell his mind was already working on the next problem and I might as well have been Nancy Pelosi.
It was a beautiful day at the beach. The next day, I mean. That particular one was by then pretty much yesterday.