EDITOR’S NOTE — See accompanying story today, “Jim’s Pharmacy helps ‘hand up, not handout’ Peninsula Home Fund with $1,043,” https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150118/NEWS/150119985
SEQUIM — A Port Angeles widow decided to give wedding rings belonging to her and her late husband to John and Sharon Trombly after reading a Peninsula Home Fund story.
The article — one of many published between Thanksgiving and New Year’s that spotlighted how the “hand up, not a handout” Home Fund operates and who benefits from the generosity of PDN readers — featured how the couple became homeless as a result of the Great Recession.
Married for 25 years and with three grown children, they lived in their van with their dog until the Home Fund — and money from selling their rings — gave them what they needed to meet the cost of a subsidized rental apartment.
(At the time of their interview, the Tromblys thought their rings had been sold for $75. In checking later, after the article appeared, they realized it was $120.)
‘Very happy together’
The widow, who asked to remain anonymous, said she had not worn her rings (an engagement and wedding set) since her husband died.
She hopes the rings will bring the Tromblys good luck.
“My husband and I were very happy together,” she told the Peninsula Daily News in an interview.
The Tromblys were “absolutely stunned” by the gift, said John.
“To learn someone read the article and then was moved to share her wedding rings with us was just, wow, unbelievable.”
The rings — a sturdy gold ring for him and a gold engagement band nestled against a sparkling diamond ring for her — exchanged hands at John’s workplace in Sequim.
He has a part-time inside job after years as a building trades worker in Jefferson County.
“She stepped in, gave them to me and stepped out without telling any stories behind the rings,” said John.
“I imagine at the end it was very difficult for her to pass along the rings to us, and what precious memories they held for her.”
Next is getting the rings resized to fit.
The work will be done by owner Randy Frederick at the Randolf Frederick Co., a jewelry, gems and watch shop on the second floor of The Landing mall in Port Angeles.
Sharon said it is both humbling and heartwarming “to think of someone going outside of themselves and reaching out that way.”
Prior to receiving such a generous gift, they had talked about renewing their vows on their 30th anniversary and hopefully having enough money by then to get new rings.
But the widow’s benevolent act of kindness has brought more meaning to their lives.
“We kind of feel her precious memories are now entwined with ours. It’s something we’ll treasure forever,” said Sharon.
Other PDN readers, too
The Tromblys were very touched that other PDN readers also had contacted the newspaper asking if they could help pay to replace the rings.
Sharon remembered when they lived in their van:
“We’d sold everything. We had nothing. It just got so hard.”
At the time, John thought the price of gold seemed to be up.
“I had this thick gold wedding band, so I told Sharon I thought if we sold it, we might have enough [to meet the rent].”
But the jeweler said his ring was worth $65 to $70, “so Sharon asked how much for her ring.”
Her ring had a larger center diamond with smaller diamonds around it. Over the years, two of the smaller diamonds had gone missing.
The jeweler said he could offer no more than $120 for both rings.
It was what they needed.
‘You become so desperate’
“When you’re in that kind of situation, you become so desperate to be in a home and off the streets, so for us, selling the rings was nothing,” said John.
“It didn’t change how we felt about each other.”
Why didn’t they try pawning the rings, a PDN reader had asked, so they could have a chance at getting them back?
It didn’t occur to them, they said.
“All we knew was we wanted to get in that apartment,” said John.
“When your primary expenses are so in your face — just staring you down — and you’re wondering where you’re going to sleep and what you’re going to eat, then a ring is just a ring.”