The Raven Lunatic
My mother’s hands intrigued me. While she had long, slender fingers, Mom’s hands were smaller than mine and much smaller than her mother’s. My dad gave her a small diamond engagement ring at Christmas 1954. She wore it until her death in 2012, and I don’t remember her ever removing it. She didn’t take her rings off to wash dishes or do laundry.
Over the years, I photographed Mom’s hands. When my son was born, I snapped a picture of her left hand on the day-old infant.
About ten years ago we went to the symphony, and I photographed her hands holding the program. Dementia stole her reading comprehension. When the music started, she transformed into another world. Mom loved music. When we were children, she used her left hand — the one with the rings — to conduct an unseen orchestra.
I’m not much of a jewelry person. What I own of value is in our lockbox at the bank. My wedding ring is a simple gold band that cost around $50. I do favor dangly earrings. I find earrings on ETSY or in antique shops on little back streets I’ve discovered on vacation.
The day before a recent birthday, my dad gave me Mom’s wedding set. His gift was the result of a phone conversation, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with your mother’s wedding rings.” As the only daughter I was incredulous and said, “Well, Dad, I would like to have them.”
The bands were soldered together 10 or 15 years ago to provide strength. I couldn’t get the set over my knuckle on either hand. Mom’s hands were significantly smaller than mine. I took them to our jeweler who sized them for my ring finger. The cost to have the ring increased was almost the cost of the engagement ring 63 years ago.
The jeweler fixed it beautifully and even retained a few of the initials carved on the inside of the wedding ring. I’m wearing the set with the simple gold wedding band my husband gave me 32 years ago.
In the few days I’ve worn the rings, I like pondering what they represent. I recognize that not everyone is blessed; life is fraught with complications that fray the knots we tie.
While Mom’s wedding set accounts for a union that lasted just shy of 57 years, it also represented a union that weathered storms and hurt. My personal relationship with my mother also unraveled and knit together in life’s tangles. My gold wedding band represents an imperfect and loving union of almost 32 years. Together, these rings are reminders of the power of love, forgiveness, and grace.
Amy McVay Abbott is a Midwestern journalist and the author of three books, compilations of her popular newspaper column “The Raven Lunatic.” Her web site is: www.amyabbottwrites.com.