Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Ring

So I said I would talk about my ring and the story behind it. I touched a bit on where it comes from when I first got engaged. It was my mother's and it was her mother's before that.

But there's a bit more to the story. I almost lost the damn thing once, due to naivete and a sneaky old bat.

I technically inherited the ring when I was 16, but my aunt held on to it for me until I was 20 (Or around there). Sensible choice. If it's one thing teenagers can't be trusted with, it's anything of importance. But seriously, no. 16 is no age to take charge of a family ring.

The ring itself was a gift from my Poppie to my Grammy for a wedding anniversary, their 25th, I believe. It was the one item of jewellery that my mother had from her mom and I never saw her wear it. She didn't have a lot of occasion in her life to dress up or wear fine things. She didn't own many fine things, if she owned any at all. She spent her money on the mortgage, gas, insurance, food and things for my brother and I. Her pleasures in life were books, her friends and Tetris on our NES. The ring lived in her jewellery box, which was shaped like a treasure chest, and it never came out.

So when I got it at the still young age of 20, I had no specific memories of the ring. I never saw it on a finger. I just knew it was valuable, and its value was due 90% to the fact it was owned by two women before me, dead and gone, who I loved.

My dad developed this paranoia about the ring. He'd bring it up, he'd envision it getting stolen. He wanted it out of the house. He suggested it go to my Poppie's, since it originally came from him and he'd probably happily look after it for me. Probably he had a safety deposit box.

So on a visit to see Poppie one day during summer break from college, I presented him the ring, watched his face light up and felt good about the choice to let this trusted adult hang on to it for me. I went to see him with the boyfriend I had at the time, Buddy B. Also there was Poppie's companion, Wilma. Wilma said something that day that I didn't pick up on, but that B was astute enough to note:

"I would never try to take that ring from you, Jendra."

That gave B a "huh" in his mind that he filed for later. Seemed an odd thing to say out of the blue, as people with no intentions to take things don't think to state that it won't happen.

I saw Poppie and Wilma with B a few more times before Poppie abruptly moved away to a small town (Wilma's home base) some hours away. With no way to get there, I was at a loss. Not only were our visits over, but my ring was now out of my reach as well. But while I was nervous, I decided to relax and have faith in Poppie.

A couple years went by when suddenly Poppie was moving back to our hometown, and had an appointment with his lawyer. All seemed very intriguing, and I was making plans to see him within the month. A lot had changed since he moved. For one, I was now dating someone new, Ex-R. Also I was done college and had a bit more freedom to make travel plans back home.

Then Poppie died. He basically got home and passed away. So up I came, and my aunt flew in from across the country and we took stock of our situation. Things were odd. Wilma was in poor health, her daughters were nowhere to be seen, even though she lost her companion, and even after she had a bad fall and my family had to break into the house and rescue her.

My aunt started to take charge. She took Poppie and Wilma's car out to run errands for the funeral and to get food and other things. Wilma started getting paranoid about the car, hinting that my aunt was trying to take it away. Then I got the sinking feeling. My ring. What if in the will there was no mention of the ring?

So I told my aunt the situation. And she took me in hand and asked Wilma about its whereabouts. Wilma didn't know. We looked. Nothing. The house was unpacked and the ring was missing, and being a valuable, this was unlikely to have been misplaced, not with everything else in its proper spot.

In the end I had to go home to Toronto and beat myself up for being so careless with an heirloom that was now seemingly in the hands of a mercenary old woman. Upon reflection I saw it all, how she never left me alone with Poppie, how she followed us everywhere and how we couldn't have a private conversation, how she went out of her way to tell me she'd never take my ring.

I wept over my mistake. I felt stupid and betrayed, and I felt as though I let my mother and Grammy down.

Then one day I got a letter in the mail. My last name was spelled wrong, but it was for me. My ring was located and if I could make arrangements to get it, it was mine. I was jubilant. Grateful. Words don't describe feeling as though a grave error has been fixed for you.

I called my aunt, who filled me in on what the letter had not: Why was I getting it back? Wilma had kept all my Grammy's collectible keepsakes. I was certain she was going to keep my ring. This is where my family gets awesome. My aunt filled in her brother on what had happened. He was the executor of Poppie's will. From that moment on, not a thing would be done by him until the business of the ring was settled and I had it back. Then Wilma could see her way to her inheritance.

And suddenly the ring emerged. From the trunk of the car. Seems it had been there the whole time.

Ex-R drove me to Wilma's daughter's home, where I got my ring. It was strangely familiar for something I had seen so little of. The daughter had me sign a paper saying I got it back. I thought all was well, but she felt the need to tell me how difficult my family was, and how all they wanted was for it to be over with.

With my family ring in hand, I channelled the women who owned it, looked her in the eye and didn't take the bait, "I'm sure we all want the same thing. Thank you. Goodbye."

And after all that, I still never wore it. It caused me joy, it caused me grief, it was a source of pride and anxiety for me. And it just sat there, in the treasure chest jewellery box I kept from my mother.

So when it came time for me to tell the Dude what ring I wanted, and after some long thought (I originally said a sapphire), I realized the ring I was meant to have and wear was already in the apartment. You don't go through that much effort and emotion for a ring that isn't going to be a part of your life.

So now it's on my finger. Some people are surprised about it's origins, that it was already mine and didn't come from the Dude. But on my hand is two women I loved and admired, effort and determination from family who truly gave a damn about me, a long journey full of intrigue, and now it's symbolizing an important commitment I'm going to make to the man I love.

You can't buy all that in a store. This thing's got history. The next woman who gets it in my family (Hopefully my own daughter) is going to need to share a bottle of wine with me while I tell its story. Already looking forward to that.

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