He took off his ring to give his dog a bath 21 years ago and thought he had lost it forever. Fate had other ideas.
It’s the story of a lost ring, a desperate search and a dog named Sushi.
It is also the story of serendipity, friendship and luck.
But perhaps it is first and foremost a story of lasting love and beshert — a Yiddish word meaning, among other things, fate.
It’s a story that’s been going on for over 50 years, but we’ll start last month when Hank Trione was doing yard work at his Santa Rosa home.
There was ground cover near the front driveway that he wanted to clear, and he shot at a stubborn group.
The root is up, and with it an 8-inch ground node.
And the aforementioned ring.
“When I pulled the root out, it flew off,” Trione said. “It must have been entangled in the root.”
Trione put it in his pocket and continued to work.
Only later did he take a closer look at his find.
“I cleaned it with an old toothbrush,” he said. “I could tell it was etched, but my eyes aren’t what they used to be.”
He pointed his phone at the engraving and detonated it. No. Then he called his 17-year-old daughter for backup.
Together they could make out four engraved letters: Barb. And a date: 8-6-72.
Curious, Trione decided to dig up something else: the file, full of ownership papers and permits from previous owners, that he got when he bought the house on East Foothill Drive four years ago.
The previous owner’s name was not Barbara, but the previous owners were Barbara and Gary Greensweig.
Trione knew where to go next.
Lynn and Gary Leopold have lived in the house across the street since 1986. They have been neighbors and friends of the Greensweigs for over three decades.
So Trione asked Lynn about the ring and if she knew how to get in touch with the Greensweigs.
She picked up the phone.
“I said ‘Are you missing a ring?'” she said. “Gary’s first reaction was no because it had been so long. I said, “It says Barbara.”
There was a pause.
“They both just gasped, ‘Are you kidding me?'”
Sushi takes a bath
This is where the story goes back in time, about 21 years.
The Greensweigs raised two daughters and a son in this home and were never without a dog.
Two decades ago, the dog was Sushi, a black and white Tibetan terrier who rose to prominence in the pages of The Press Democrat due to his near-miraculous recovery from diabetes-induced blindness.
You read correctly.
It was therefore around 2001 that Gary Greensweig gave a Sushi bath in the garden. Afraid that the soap on his hands would slip his wedding ring, he put the gold ring in his pocket.
“At the end of the dog wash event, he was gone,” Greensweig said.
The ring, not Sushi.
Anyone who has ever tried bathing a dog will understand Greensweig’s use of the word “event” to describe the ordeal.
At the end, Sushi took his bath. But the alliance was AWOL.
Greensweig checked his pockets. He looked into the grass in the garden.
“I was thinking of renting a metal detector,” he said.
They finally opted against the metal detector and just decided to replace the ring.
“After he lost it, he bought another one and I got it,” Barbara Greensweig said. “That’s how I know when he’s been lost.”
The Greensweigs lived in this house for another 11 years. The lost ring never appeared.
In 2012, Gary Greensweig retired as chief medical officer of what was then St. Joseph Health, and the couple moved to Montara, south of Pacifica.
The new owner of their home has done a massive overhaul of the garden and yard. The lawn was pulled up, bushes and flowers were planted.
Leopold remembers meters of weed barrier covering large areas of land.
When Trione bought the property four years ago, he began to slowly thin out some of the plantings.
That’s what he was doing a month ago when he was removing the ground cover around the front driveway, he said.
How the ring got out of Sushi’s bath in the garden near the driveway in front of the house is a mystery.
How the ring was buried in 8 inches of hardened earth is also a mystery.
As for the forces behind her discovery, Barbara Greensweig doesn’t call it a mystery, but rather a fate.
Because according to Leopold’s calculations, it was on or about July 6 that she made contact with the Greensweigs about the ring.
And July 6 was exactly one month to the day before the Greensweigs’ 50th wedding anniversary, the day they first exchanged rings.
In telling the story, Barbara Greensweig uses the word “beshert”.
Barbara and Gary Greensweig are Jewish. The word beshert connotes fate, the inevitable, the predestined.
In an article in The Jewish Chronicle, beshert is described as applying to anything that bears “the fingerprints of divine providence.”
“But it is used most often in connection with marriage and shidduchim (matches). Single people pray to ‘meet their beshert’, their life partner, the other half of the broken eggshell with whom they will find the love and fulfillment,” it read.
Trione, the reluctant gardening hero of this story, said hearing Barbara Greensweig describe the discovery as something predestined moved him.
“I got a little choked up,” he said. “It made me feel like I was in the right place to be a part of something like this. My stars were aligned. It’s a silly little thing and for some reason it made me feel good.
The Greensweigs — two parts of the same eggshell — celebrated their golden anniversary in Hawaii with their kids and grandkids all week.
Their group is 16 in all. Nothing is missing. And now nothing is lost.
“It’s really beautiful,” said Barbara Greensweig. “Things are meant to happen.”
You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or [email protected] On Twitter @benefield.