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Around the Kitchen Table

By Joan Eyolfson Cadham

Don Ward

I woke up in the middle of the night recently with a panicky feeling that my engagement and wedding rings were missing. I’ve been deliberately shedding some unnecessary pounds and have, as a consequence, lost close to a full ring size. I had known that they were loose. But now they were gone. Assuming they had slipped off while I was sleeping, I tore the bed apart, searched the area around the bed and under the dresser. Nothing. Just in case, I repeated the process. Same results.

I slept very little for the rest of the night. There’s more to those rings than just money — and neither of them were really expensive. It’s all in the manner of the giving of the sapphire ring, which was presented to me one lovely Easter Sunday morning, as the “yolk” in an openable ceramic Easter egg. And then, because of the unusual design of that ring, Jack and the salesman had to design a wedding band that would fit around the sapphires.

Too depressed to get out of bed, I lay there, stewing, for several hours. I know. Not a smart move. But I wasn’t feeling very clever. When I finally crawled out, I stripped the bed again and did another search. Still nothing.

I’d been doing laundry in the evening and, when I brought up the last armful, I had dumped it on a shelf to deal with later. I should fold and put away that last load of laundry, I decided. Not accomplishing anything productive was going to make me feel worse. I lifted up the clothes and, there, underneath them, was the sapphire ring.

So, a half-hour search all around that area. I carefully shook out each item I’d brought upstairs. No wedding ring. If I have to, I thought, I can live with just the one. But I’m not necessarily going to like it.

Too bothered, too restless to sit and write, I knew I needed something else active to do. My back porch was piled high with recycles — it has been too cold to manage them myself with the problem of my supplementary oxygen tubing freezing up in cold air. A friend had offered to haul the cardboard for me and was turning up shortly after lunch. For no logical reason at all, I decided that I had better reorganize all the cardboard which I had in an assortment of boxes stacked on the dryer and the freezer.

My friends, the people who know me well enough and are close enough to me to be entirely honest, will be quick to explain that I am not now nor have I ever been so organized that I would re-pack recycled cardboard. At least, not until that moment. However, I found a larger box and began the process of moving stuff from smaller boxes to bigger boxes, packing slowly and carefully as I went. And that’s when I found the wedding ring. It was in the smaller container — loose, not hidden inside an empty cracker box, but shining up at me from the bottom of the box.

Obviously the pair had come off when I pulled out the laundry — the sapphire ring stuck to my newly dried clothes while the wedding ring fell into the recycle box. I would eventually have found the sapphire ring. The wedding ring would, an hour later, have vanished into the recycling bin.

I’ve never quite known what to think about the actuality of guardian angels. Perhaps my ambivalence comes from the nightly prayer I was taught as a very little girl:

“There are four corners to my bed;
There are four angels round my head,
One to watch, and one to pray,
And two to bear my soul away.”

Just about as comforting, for a little tot, as the other bedtime prayer I had to commit to memory. There was nothing so helpful, obviously, as sending a child off to sleep in a darkened room with visions of death dancing in her head:

“Now I lay me down to sleep / I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep. / If I should die before I wake / I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take.”

Later, much later, I learned a third prayer-poem about angels:

“Angel of God, / my guardian dear, / To whom God’s love / commits me here, / Ever this day / be at my side / To light and guard, / Rule and guide.”

Yes, that one promises life, not imminent death, but it doesn’t answer a major question: if the guardian angel is doing all the guarding, ruling and guiding, where does “free will” and “conscience” fit in?

On the other hand, of course, is the raw visual proof — two rings, both safely back on my hand.

Eyolfson Cadham is an award-winning columnist and freelance journalist who moved from Montreal to Foam Lake in 1992. She is a member of Saskatchewan Writers Guild and is an oral storyteller who has professional status with Storytellers of Canada.