Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 23, 2021

Life's small lessons

Transferring what we learn to the next generation is how the human race progresses. Without it, we'd be stuck in an endless loop of relearning the same lessons generation after generation. Still, I can think of many examples where that transmission of knowledge - or wisdom if you want to call it that - was attempted, but fell on deaf ears.

When I was chumming with my South American friends while in college, a friend's mother warned me not to fall in love with a certain Latino because he would break my heart. I ignored her advise ... and ended up with a broken heart.

We Peace Corps volunteers were told that the sun's rays in high-altitude Quito, Ecuador were stronger than what most of us had experienced. The admonition was to not stay outdoors too long and to wear plenty of sunscreen. I didn't. My name went from Gloria to "Glo!"

When I worked in Costa Rica, I knew the dangers of buying food from street vendors, but one day on the beach I was so thirsty I gave in. Another lesson relearned!

Costa Rica was the setting for another such incident. I grew up on a farm, and dad warned me to remember that animals are not humans. At my place in San Jos´┐Ż, I was face-to-face with our cat Charles when he batted me. I felt foolish wearing the prescribed eyepatch, not just because of how I looked, but because I had been warned, making it my fault for allowing the cat to get that close.

Dad also had mentioned how loose clothing and jewelry can become dangerous around farm machinery. But they can be at other places as well. In Ecuador, I was zipping down my apartment staircase when I slipped and my ring caught on the stair railing. For an instant, I wondered if I'd lose my finger, but broke my fall before that happened.

Rings have been the focal point in many problematic situations. Husband Art was in the hospital for a routine check one day when a man came in with his hand wrapped in a cloth. The starter rope on a lawn-mower engine had caught his wedding band, stripping the flesh from the finger. Art said, "You know it's bad when the doctor winces."

Art has never worn his wedding ring on any day he is working. Most electronic gadgets today aren't dangerous, but he sees no reason to provide a particularly good connection to a hand.

When we think about the passage of wisdom from older folks to youngsters, school days often come to mind. But these everyday lessons are more likely to be transmitted from parent to child, if at all. Often these small nuggets are never mentioned or are destined to fall by the wayside. But in the right situation, small losses can loom large. A couple of weeks ago, our son-in-law Matt had a brush with one of these.

For some time, he and daughter Katie had an Hawaiian trip in the works. Matt's extended family was going to spend some time there as it was a favorite place for his grandmother, who was experiencing some health issues. Once they arrived, Katie and Matt spent many days hiking, beach combing, and enjoying the water.

But one time while playing catch with Katie near the shore, Matt lost his wedding band. The cool water had probably caused his fingers to shrink and, combined with them being wet, the ring had slipped off.

Women are more likely to wear rings than men are and we also are the ones most often with our hands in soapy water doing dishes. In these situations, many of us take our rings off, if we can, to avoid having one slip off and disappear down the drain. This is done so routinely we are unlikely to even think about it, much less to tell another why we do it.

For Matt and Katie, it was too late for that. An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, but now the question was could paying the higher price turn the lost into the found.

The surf was strong and it apparently covered the ring with sand almost immediately. But Matt had the presence of mind to carefully note the location in reference to several shore landmarks. His idea was to rent a metal detector, but then discovered Dave's Metal Detecting on the Web.

While we had never passed the "take-your-rings-off" lesson to our kids, looking at Dave's Facebook page, it was clear we were not the only ones who had failed to do so. The site is peppered with found-ring photos. His Facebook page described what followed:

July 16 at 3:42 PM

This one was a few days ago. I received a message on Google asking when I could search for a ring in South Kihei. I said I could be there first thing 7:30am. This ring was lost near high tide at about waist deep water. Low Tide the next day was going to be around the time I'm going to search. PERFECT! I may not have to even get wet. So we met at the location. He explained it happened while playing catch in shallow water. About 5 minutes into the search, Cobalt wedding ring Found. Love Making SMILES Happen!

Of course, not all "lessons" should be passed on. Art said his grandfather was a boy when the family farm was re-possessed after his father's death and the mortgage couldn't be paid. The lesson his grandfather learned was never to buy on credit and so his family never owned a home or a family car.

While we humans do move forward, it's a process abundantly sprinkled with retreats. Matt's and Katie's experience turned out well and they agreed Dave was a cool fellow to have met and agreed the $80 charge didn't put a dent in their adventure.

Maybe there is another lesson there.

Left: Charles and "lesson-learned" Gloria passing time together in Costa Rica.
Right: Matt, Dave and Katie after the recovery of Matt's wedding ring.

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