PORTLAND, MAINE — If only rings could talk.
Nearly 50 years after a woman lost her boyfriend’s class ring in a Maine department store, it turned up buried six inches deep in the floor of a forest in Finland.
“I was shocked. And didn’t really believe that it would be his. I needed to see it,” Debra McKenna, the owner of the ring told CNN of the surprise discovery. “How could it be so far away?”
The man who found it was just as excited.
But the story of how the ring journeyed from 1973, Maine, to 2020, Finland, is a mystery.
The ring’s journey began in Portland, Maine, in 1973.
It belonged to her high school boyfriend, Shawn, she told the Bangor Daily News, and he gave it to her before he left Morse High School for college.
She lost it not long after he left, when she removed it to wash her hands at a department store in Portland. “It wasn’t there when I went back and it was only minutes,” McKenna told CNN. “And that was the last I saw of it.”
She was upset. But he didn’t care.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter — the couple married in 1977 and stayed together for 40 years until he passed away in 2017 after a six-year battle with cancer.
Somewhere between 1973 and this past January, the ring crossed the Atlantic Ocean for Finland.
Marko Saarinen, a 38-year-old sheet metalworker, came across an item that he figured must have been toy from a vending machine.
A few hours a week, Saarinen enjoys looking for historic items in a nearby forest in Kaarina, Finland, with his metal detector, and such discoveries are uncommon. He usually finds old coins, musket balls, trash or bottle caps but nothing too valuable, he said. But when he took a closer look, he quickly realized it was slightly more authentic.
The markings on the ring — Morse High School, the year, 1973, and the initials, “S.M.” — gave him clues he’d need to try and track the owner down.
Saarinen posted a photo of the ring to the Morse High School Class of 1973 Facebook page and quickly received a response.
The alumni group had no trouble finding the original owner: it was Shawn McKenna’s. Debra’s high school boyfriend.
“We had no other males in the class with those same initials,” one of the administrators of the class Facebook page, Kathleen Nadeau, told CNN. “I believe there were about 216 of us. There was a female in our class with the same initials, but from the photos we knew it was a man’s ring.”
Saarinen didn’t think twice to mail it back to where it belonged. He’s just happy to have made the find. “This has been an amazing discovery. Best yet,” he said.
Debra, for her part, is glad the ring found its way home. She believes the discovery was a message from her husband that he’s still with her.
“I was feeling a little lost for a bit, and now I feel like, okay, he’s letting me know that things are good, that the decisions I’m making are right and he’s behind me on it,” she said. “Like he has been through my whole life.”