Jonnie Ashby thought she’d never see her wedding rings ever again after she accidentally threw them away last week. But after a few phone calls, two kind landfill workers, and a whole lot of prayer, the elderly widow was reunited with the precious keepsakes.
In an interview with WTVR-TV, the Virginia native shared the heartwarming love story behind the special rings.
Ashby first met her late husband, Bill Ashby, on Independence Day, 1956. The two had been sunbathing with friends at Moore’s Lake when they first made each other’s acquaintance.
Soon after that, a teenage Bill Ashby asked his future wife on a date with a note that read “I’d like to make a date with you.” Young Jonnie replied with a coy “maybe,” but she now admits that she was smitten from the start.
“We never dated anyone else after that,” she told WTVR.
The two were married in 1958. Over the course of their decades-long marriage, Jonnie and Bill sent notes back and forth, signing each message with a drawing of a hand.
“It means never ending love,” Ashby explained. “My husband and I did this to each other all the time.”
Any time Jonnie would look down at her own hand, she’d see her rings, and reflect on the sacred union she and her husband shared.
When Ashby realized she’d thrown her rings away by mistake, she was absolutely devastated. She told WTVR that on June 26, she was heading to the store when she accidentally grabbed the rings she’d wrapped in a paper towel by the sink while doing dishes, and threw them in the garbage.
Ashby and her granddaughter meticulously sifted through piles of trash in a nearby dumpster, but couldn’t reach the bottom because heavy construction materials were sitting on top. They then contacted the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority and explained what had happened.
Two days later, the dumpster arrived at the Sussex County Landfill and Recycling Center, where it was isolated from other dumpsters to help workers locate the rings.
After the landfill closed that day, employees Matt Venable and Jason Williams helped search multiple trash bags until they finally found Ashby’s rings in a bright yellow Dollar General bag.
“At about four o’clock he [Venable] called,” Ashby told WTVR. “I yelled, ‘What, are you kidding me!’ And he said ‘I’m on the way with your rings.'”
Ashby hugged Venable when he arrived to deliver the rings and wrote thank you notes to every worker who participated in the search.
That evening, she thanked God for answering her prayers.
“I got on my knees and said thank you to God for giving them the eyesight to find these rings,” Ashby said.
After that prayer, she looked at a picture of her husband by her bedside and smiled.
“I said you sent your guardian angel down here today, I know you did.”