By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News
This Valentine’s, a Steiner Ranch wife and mother-of-two is more grateful than ever for her once lost diamond — which was used nearly a decade earlier to declare love with a wedding proposal to her as a graduate student in San Marcos.
January 11 was just another a typical day for Alyson Horak. She dropped off her daughter, Emma, at school, returned home with her son, Bryson, went to Cups & Cones to hear Mr. Rudy perform, went back home, washed laundry and dishes, let the dogs out, hosed off the dogs after they rolled in mud, then trimmed some shrubs growing near the back gate.
The big surprise came when, after all of that, “I was sitting on the back porch talking to my cousin (on the phone),” Horak recalls, “and I looked down… and I noticed there was no diamond,” in her engagement ring.
Shocked, Horak conveyed this news first to her cousin then to her husband Brandon, who was unfazed and assured her that insurance would cover the loss.
Not comforted and now in tears, Horak called her mom for guidance. Her mom, who lives seven hours away, asked Horak where she had been that day then, without hesitating, declared that the one-and-a-half carat diamond was at Cups & Cones.
“I was like, you’re nuts,” said Horak. “Why would it be at Cups & Cones?… She’s like, just get yourself together. Go back up to Cups & Cones.”
Horak first looked in the mud puddle in her yard and in her car, taking out the car seats and scouring every corner of her vehicle without success, after which she took her mom’s advice and returned to Cups & Cones.
Owners Rick and Kristi Nordin were having a meeting when Horak arrived. She approached them to explain her situation but started crying before she could even begin.
Rick and Kristi immediately leaped into action. Kristi swept the entire store and Rick asked Horak if she’d thrown anything away while there earlier. She had discarded an ice cream dish, “So he takes that trash and he starts sifting through it piece by piece,” explains Horak, adding, “Godsend of a man.”
After going through the melted ice cream, sticky drink cups and discarded napkins with a fine-toothed comb, Rick was still unable to find the diamond. Unwilling to give up, though, he went with Horak out to her car, which was parked in the same spot it had been in the morning.
Rick instructed Horak to, “slowly back out your car, let me check your tires, see if it got stuck in your tire,” said Horak, which she did, also revealing no diamond.
At this point it was time for Horak to leave to pick up her daughter at school, and Rick had her leave her number so he could call in case he found the stone.
Not expecting to hear from him, Horak left to get her daughter.
“And I get to School in the Hills, and he calls me,” she explains. “He found the diamond in the parking lot.”
It turned out that the stone had been loose for some time. Horak hadn’t noticed, though, because it was loose on its underside, having been rubbed for years from below by the smaller diamond wedding bands on either side on the engagement ring. While putting her son in his carseat, the ring had snagged on something and the diamond had flown out, landing two spots down from where she was parked.
How did Rick manage to find something so small? As he explains it, it was, “Pure luck. That’s all you can attribute it to.”
It was not even Rick’s first found diamond. “This happened to me before,” he said. “I was driving people downtown, and one of the ladies had lost her ring. And there were six ladies downtown scouring the sidewalks. And it took me four or five minutes, and I found the ring. So I guess I’m lucky.”
More than luck, the willingness to help and readiness to act is customary of the Nordins, who are active in the community and well known for their service-mindedness.
Besides relief, Horka feels enormous gratitude for the Nordins. “I can’t thank Rick and Kristi enough,” she said. “I can’t believe he continued to look for that diamond in the parking lot… Nobody else would have done that.” To further show her appreciation, Horak gifted the Nordins a bottle of champagne.
Horak can remember the first time she saw that diamond, at a bar in San Marcos while attending grad school and still dating her future husband.
“We went to go listen to Kyle Park, who is a Texas country singer at Cheatham Street,” she recounts. “And (Brandon) got them to change the playlist for the night to play our song, which is ‘Yours and Mine,’ before midnight… and he proposed right before midnight on the dance floor.”
She said yes, of course, and now, almost nine years of marriage later, Horak has a new appreciation for the diamond that started her life as a wife and mother. She’ll now be visiting the jeweler annually to check that her stone remains snugly in place.
As for Rick, finding the diamond was just another day at the office, one he approached with his usual willingness to be of service. “We’ve always been that way,” he explains, shrugging. “I learned a lot from Kristi… You focus in on what you need to regardless if it’s a diamond or the community or whatever the object is. You just focus in on it.”