Her Bad Mother

Friday, March 28, 2008

Lady Of The Rings

When I was pregnant with Wonderbaby, I lost my wedding ring. It was late in the pregnancy, and my fingers were swollen, so I removed it and (I thought) tucked it safely away, with every intention of putting it on a gold chain or something so that I could keep wearing it.

I never saw it again.

It was something that I had hoped never to lose. My mother had it - and my husband's matching band - handmade from gold from my great-grandmother's collection as her wedding gift to us. It was the only thing that I had of my great-grandmother's, and the most precious of our wedding gifts, not to mention, you know, the crafted symbol of our undying love. And I lost it.

I wore a cool Frank Gehry-designed Tiffany ring in its place until very recently. It - the Gehry ring - was explicitly not a conventional wedding band; it was just a pretty, shiny placeholder for the treasured ring that my husband kept assuring me we would find. When we moved house, shortly after Wonderbaby's second birthday - more than two years since I had lost the ring - we finally gave up looking. It was gone.

My husband bought me a replacement ring for Valentine's Day this year. It's very pretty, a simple white-gold band with a sparkly row of diamonds across the top. Conventionally wedding-bandy, without being too traditional, and evocative of the simple gold band that my mother had crafted for us. If you put my husband's left hand alongside my own and noticed our rings, you would think that they each had probably been purchased or made with the other in mind. That they weren't - that there are years and histories that divide these two rings - would only be apparent to someone who knew the saga of the ring that formerly dwelt upon my left ring-finger. Even then, they might not notice. A ring is a ring is ring, after all, and one band - whether it be treasured hand-me-down gold or jagged high-design silver or brand-new and sparkly - is not all that different from another.

A ring is a ring is a ring. And the loss of that first, most precious ring - the first piece of jewellry that I ever really treasured as something whose whole value was greater than the sum of its market-evaluated parts - taught me that what was precious was not the ring itself, but everything that it symbolized. Which, I know, trite, but still: I was able to lose that ring and not feel that I'd lost some part of myself. My marriage, my love for my husband, my mother's love for me, the memory of my great-grandmother: those were, and are, all things that live and breathe and flourish beyond the ring. These things cannot be lost.

Someday, I'll pass along my wedding ring - my shiny, pretty, circa-2008 ring - to my daughter, and I will tell her its story and I will tell her that it means everything - love, memory, loss - and nothing. That its importance - before it comes into her possession, while she carries it with her, and long after she loses it - resides only in its idea, in the thought of it as a symbol of all those things that I will tell her about, that she will learn about, and that that idea, that thought, those things, can be carried in her heart, their weight beyond gold.

I have no picture of that ring, and this was supposed to be a photo-centric post, so. In lieu of, I inserted pictures of some of my other favorite things. My antique Lopburi monkey oil painting, my library table, one of my two cats, a photo of my grandma on her wedding day, the squirrel who's been suntanning outside my kitchen window. You know, stuff I love.

None of which I love as much as this, though:


As I noted yesterday, instead of a straight-up Friday Flashback, today is a kind of Friday Flashback/Friday Foto Frenzy combo - a photo-centric post that may or may not involve a flashback (although bonus points are awarded for keeping it flashback-y.) The topic: "My Favorite Thing," or "These Are A Few Of... etc" (in case you have more than one.) Self-explanatory: what object (or objects) in your home is your favorite thing, the thing that you would be most likely to grab first in a fire, the thing that you gaze upon and murmur, lovingly, MINE? Bonus points if it's something from your youth or childhood. (Inspiration from Mama Tulip, who was probably inspired by someone else, which is how this stuff usually works.) Let me know if you do it, so that I can come check your stuff out.

Other posts this morning (note - this list is NOT comprehensive - I'm limited in my capacity to update links these days, tho' I'll try to add more as I can, but anyhoo: this baby's round-robin, which means follow the links for more links and more links and so on and so forth):

Girl's Gone Child
Mrs. Flinger

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Blogger motherbumper said...

Damn why are my eyes leaky? Beautiful and WB will add to the beauty when it's her ring. It may not be the same ring but it will hold the memories in it's infinite loop.

And that monkey print - WANT IT. BREAKING INTO HOUSE NOW. Squirrel is distraction. Good job squirrel, the nuts are yours.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Yeah, a ring is just a ring. I'd tell myself that but still make myself sick over the loss. That's how I am. You've got a great attitude about it (a healthy one) and your children will inherit that attitude I'd guess.

12:42 PM  
Blogger CP said...

Aww, this is a really touching post! I too put a lot of sentimental value on objects- and sadly those objects can be lost, destroyed or worn away.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

That last photo? So tender and sweet. Awwwww.

This post was a great idea. Like Heather said -- you've got a great attitude. That's the best gift you can pass on to your daughter.

3:04 PM  
Blogger merinz said...

Your cat has/had a double! Our dear old cat Lucy was also a lilac point siamese with the same features. Many of the more 'modern' siamese cats seem have different facial features now - a longer more wedge shaped head.

Lucy lived to a ripe old age of 19.

Loved your post - yes - people are more important than 'things'.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a lovely post, but I keep finding myself scrolling down to the shoe hamster wheel. ;)


3:39 PM  
Blogger Sass said...

Yes that's a very healthy attitude. I'd be sick with regret.

4:09 PM  
Blogger MommyTime said...

This is thoughtful and comforting. As someone who nearly lost her wedding and engagement rings, I can wholly sympathize. I chose to leave mine behind when we went on a vacation to Mexico because I was afraid I might lose them snorkling or something (dummy, but then, I was only 10 months married at that point). Anyway, we came home to find our house had been burglarized, and I couldn't find my rings anywhere and couldn't remember where I'd stashed them. I was heartbroken that they were gone (they were both antiques as well as having the obvious sentimental value). I did finally find them. Where? In a ring box that I'd shoved into the toe of an old wool sock. Once I found them, I remembered my thought at the time I'd stashed them there: "even if someone broke into the house and rifled through my drawers looking for jewelry, no one would ever think to look INSIDE a pair of ratty socks." Apparently I was right about that. But now, I never take them off, no matter what. It's just more certain that way.

All of this is to say, that I can clearly imagine how crushing it must have been to lose the ring you loved. And I admire your fortitude in coming to regard this symbol as merely a symbol, not a substitute, for the love itself. It's the only way, I think, to cope with loss.

Do you know the Elizabeth Bishop poem "One Art"? If not, you really should read it.

8:36 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

To me, it's the engagement ring that we bought together in Amsterdam that comes with story - a frenzied trip to replace a fallen-out side stone, a ticked-off kittenpie, and so on - that I treasure more than the wedding ring. Perhaps because it was part of that memorable trip, perhaps because I wore it for two years before we got married and it seemed more important than the wedding ring, which seemed more a formality. But then, I also still keep the plastic ring with which Misterpie proposed in the first place. The wedding ring? Actually doesn't mean much to me, because it wasn't something special like yours. What a lovely story. (And my mother lost her wedding ring, too, one she and my dad had designed and custom made for them. I hate that she lost it, it was a really terrific ring.)

9:29 PM  
Blogger Zellmer said...

Great post. I lost my engagement ring so I could really relate to this. I also did the Favorite Things post if you want to check it out.

10:30 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

lovely post. my engagement ring was my great-grandmother's, and at the moment, my fingers are too swollen for it. Losing it would be devastating, but like you said, it's the story of the ring that's more important.

And wow, does WB ever look like your huz in profile.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

Ahhh. I love your perspective and voice here. Wonderful. "That is means everything and nothing." Seriously, love it.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Minnesota Matron said...

Yes, you're right. I feel the same, except for one thing -- when I was 5, my father gave me a silver ring shaped into the world LOVE with a tiny diamond on the i. He left our family a few weeks later and I didn't see him again until I was 11, then not again till 18. He died at a relatively young age, too, so he's gone from my life once again. But I still have that ring.

11:18 AM  
Blogger ~**Dawn**~ said...

This is such a beautifully written post.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

Sniff. Sigh. I, too, lost my ring when we moved. My husband doesn't wear his because he works with electronics, and it's a safety hazard. We're still very, very married, and very much in love. Your story speaks volumes.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wear my grandmother's wedding ring as my wedding ring. I didn't want a new one because this one was so beautiful and sentimental. Before having babies, it used to be a bit loose and I lost it once, only to find it in a bag of clothes I was about to give away. Yikes!

And your counted your kitty. That's so sweet. I'm a cat person, in case you couldn't tell :)

6:03 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I think an amazing sign of maturity is being able to distinguish the stuff from the stuff it represents.

That said, I don't have a wedding band, but for one brief day I thought I had lost the one that used to be my grandmother's. Crushing.

Nice flashback C.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Nanci's Foibles said...

You are a much bigger Mom than me. Your attitude is healthy and touching.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

It's not that I don't think all of your other favorite things are wonderful, but I love that chair and the red wall behind it.

12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes that's a very healthy attitude. I'd be sick with regret. any way thanks for this article.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another beautiful post catherine.LAVANDULA

11:30 AM  
Blogger TheMacMommy said...

Allergies, PMS and now reading this post, I give up, can't keep my eyes dry lately. Thanks for this. I told my husband I didn't need/want an engagement ring (even though I secretly wanted one but am too "practical" to let him spend all that money on one) and instead he gave to me a necklace that had belonged to his grandmother. It had the hands of Fatima on it with a piece of turquoise in the center. I wore this necklace in place of a traditional engagement ring. "Had" — yes, I lost it. I lost it while we were visiting the Grand Canyon. I was devastated and felt ill. My husband's mother made me feel better about it though by giving me another necklace that was my husband's grandmother's to replace it. She said it was just a piece of jewelry and even though a family heirloom with sentimentality attached to it, she said she rather it had been worn, loved, cherished and lost than have that necklace sit in a box somewhere never being enjoyed. It made me feel a little bit better but now I guard this necklace with my life and when my son was born, I stopped wearing it for fear he might rip it off of my neck and I'd lose it again. I'm very terrified of losing my wedding band. I'm constantly fiddling with my finger to make sure it's still there, for the past 4 years. It's kind of a little twitch and I don't notice I do it as much anymore.

I don't know, something about your post made me feel a little more relaxed though that even if I did lose it, your words put things into perspective a little better.


2:08 AM  

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