Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Ring

 I am reading on the sofa. Mom is reading in her chair.

 Only, when I look up, she is not reading. She is sleeping. It is the bain of her existent. "I cannot sit here and try to read without falling to sleep," she says. That probably has something to do with getting up most days at 4:30 a.m.

 But as I stare at her, across the sun-filled living room, I see that her left arm is raised. Even from across the room I see that its color is no longer normal. It is shaded toward purple, colored with the years of work, tinted with toil. It is the proof of 86 years. Even from my seat, I see her golden wedding ring shine in the early morning light.

 In a moment she wakes and looks at me. Subconsciously she knows she is being watched. She smiles and lowers her hand to her book. She is reading about Queen Elizabeth.

 I tell her to stay as she is, leave her hand where it lands. I go for my camera to record the moment.

 I ask her the story behind her wedding ring. "We bought them at Zechman's," she tells me. "I think it was on the right side of what is now the Market Square building," That's the current home of the Miamisburg Historical Society.

 "How early did you buy them?" I ask. Mom and Dad were married on November 24, 1945.

 "I don't know. I just don't remember. I'm not sure Dad even asked me to marry him. We just started talking about it," she smiles.

 Dad's ring was gone years before. Back in 1987, when we first moved to Pinehaven, Dad's arthritis swelled his knuckles to the point that he feared he'd have to have the ring cut off some day. So while he still could remove it, he did. He placed it in Mom's jewelry box.

 Our house was burglarized less than two months after moving in. The jewelry box and all of its contents were one of the things taken. The ring was never replaced. "It wouldn't have been the same ring," Mom said.

 But Mom's ring has been on that finger for nearly 67 years and I suspect it's as much a part of her as the finger itself. And though the link is broken - Dad died last May - I know that there is some connection that is eternal. I think of the ring Abraham Lincoln gave to Mary. "Love is eternal" were the words engraved on the inside.

 While Mom's ring has no engraving, their lives together, their day-to-day existence, is their story. My brother and I are a continuation of that story, proof of something solid beyond gold.

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