I don’t know if it was so for my three brothers, but whenever we three girls asked my mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day, her birthday, or Christmas she’d invariably say, “A diamond ring, a fur coat, and a trip around the world.”
Nowadays, such requests may not seem that unreasonable, what with seven year olds pocketing iPhones, college students making pilgrimages, and fur coats being faked well enough to warrant splattering by PETA paint.
But back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, these were all big ticket items for the vast majority of American women.
Since my mom wasn’t elitist, extravagant, or pretentious, I didn’t take her wish list seriously. She had a mink-ish stole she dearly loved and wore from time-to-time. She managed to travel to every country and place she ever dreamt of going before she passed away nine years ago at ninety-three. And, she appeared satisfied with wearing her wedding ring during 31 years of marriage and 37 years of widowhood — a wafer thin band of gold, originally mounted with 7 miniscule diamond chips, two of them missing from forever ago.
“This diamond ring doesn’t shine for me anymore,” she’d chime along with Gary Lewis and the Playboys back in ‘65.
“Are you planning on taking it off and selling it?” I once asked.
“No,” she admitted. “Remember, dear, the first ring represents your beginning and shouldn’t cost more than what you can safely afford. The last ring shows how far you’ve gotten. It may weigh more and the stone will be bigger — but that ring is less about who you are, and more about who you just think you are.”
Costume jewelry was more my mother’s style, mostly sets of necklaces and bracelets with complementing clip-on earrings, cloth flowers with pin backs, hair combs studded with rhinestones, and watches with exchangeable bands. It was while rummaging through these, kept in an old cedar box stamped Souvenir of Gaylord, that I detected the faint fragrance of her Yardley Lavender still lingering there as I matched each pretty piece of paste to memories of the outfit she wore and the special occasion that warranted the wearing. That is, except for one out-of-place, unfamiliar, etched gold band with a solitaire diamond setting that seemed a perfect starter ring for a young (or young-at-heart) someone who hoped to commit, or celebrate a first anniversary, or wear on the pinky until presenting it as a simple act of friendship to another.
It’s a dainty little ring, perfectly capable of stirring up tender emotions — but one I’d never wear since it wasn’t given to me by my lifelong love.
So, I decided to let someone else create a warm memory by giving the ring away. No strings attached. No expectations of return. Quietly and without adieu, certain my mom would approve.
Besides, it’s not as if I’m giving her wedding ring away.
That tarnished band of holes and chips has resided on my pinky since she passed, and it will remain there until I do, as a testament to the woman whose namesake I am, and the cherished memories of her I wouldn’t sacrifice — not even for a diamond ring, a fur coat, and a trip around the world.
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Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine 2015
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