A glimmer of the past today

The other day, on the way to work, my wedding ring caught the sun and glinted in my eye. My ring is one of those things I take for granted, it’s always there, awake, asleep, shower, workout, cooking. Some take theirs off but I don’t for fear I will misplace it. When it caught my eye that morning, I was reminded that the diamond in the center came from my grandmother’s ring. She died {at age 95!} while my husband I were dating, but prior to getting married.  Unbeknownst to me, my mother had her ring ‘divided’ so that when my day came, I could have a bit of our family history. Other stones from the ring were saved for my brother to give to someone special.

My ring is not fancy or large; it doesn’t grab the attention of others the way a ring can. But, it was handmade by a jeweler in the coastal town where my husband I were living when we dated and got married. We kept it simple with intent; we didn’t have a lot of money, and it represented the kind of people we are and choose to be. But I was touched that my mom would think of this and parcel out the diamonds; allowing us to keep a part of what came before us.

grandma's Hazel's diamond

Noticing my ring that morning, and really the diamond itself, got me thinking about my grandmother Hazel and her life. To be honest, my grandmother was not a terribly nice woman and probably because she was not a very happy person. But it overcame me to think of her lifespan and that of the diamond now traveling around with me – it had started out in her ring decades ago, in a completely different era. At the start of something so promising for her; a hopeful time. Her life took many unfortunate turns; I see her now with the eyes and experience of a woman rather than a child and realize she had seen a lot in her 95 years. Maybe I would’t be so nice either had I endured what she did! We will never know. Her life started on a rural farm in Kansas, ended in a small town in CA and included life stops along the way in three major cities.. A seamstress and a single mother, she raised my mom on her own in a time when she likely did not have many other women in whom she found much support.

And now that diamond is part of my every day. I think of it being on her hand and traveling through her days and nights, ups and downs and being a fixture that perhaps she too came to take for granted.

my mother's - Bernice - ring

Thinking of that diamond, that ring, her hand, her life – got me thinking of the ring I wear on my right hand – my mothers’ wedding ring. A very non-traditional ring, especially for the era in which she married my father, post WWII 1940’s San Francisco. For most of my childhood, I looked at her ring and I didn’t like it. It didn’t fit what I thought you were supposed to have as a ‘married lady’; all her friends had rings that were ‘fancier’ had a more prominent diamond. Hers was white gold in a time when yellow gold was the ‘thing’. But she wore that ring every day, through all her challenges, through her mundane days, raising two kids, being a patient, solid partner of a self-employed man and battling cancer on more than one occasion. When her last day came; I could think of nothing more beautiful than her ring and confided in my father and brother how much I needed to have that part of her with me every day. I had the ring sized to fit me and and have worn it every day since. It gives me hope and comfort; it is a reminder of her expansive love and all that she taught me.

It is a constant source of strength for me; it calls me to keep in mind how strong she was and all that she endured with faith, grace and always humor. She was small, but mighty and she was a woman before her time; wise in ways I know I will never be. This month marks the 14th year of her moving on to her next adventure and leaving an abundance of sparkling memories in her wake.

What struck me that morning is that I wear these two rings every day, yet I hardly notice them most of the time. They are just part of me now.  And while just objects; they are with me throughout my own ups and downs, quiet moments, exciting times, nail-biting stressful times and all the mundane moments that punctuate my life. I am moved by the timelessness of both, that they spent their days traveling upon the hand of the strong women that helped pave the way for me.

What timeless pieces do you have in your life to remind you of what has gone before you?


2 thoughts on “A glimmer of the past today

  1. Just to expand a bit on the history…grandma was a woman before her time along the lines of “Rosie the Riviter.” She worked as a welder for small electronic parts in the WWII war effort. My own recollections of her are very different than yours, but that comes with the fact that I had several years of experience of her before you entered (gladly) into our family. I have to say much more of who she was…mainly becaues she was a very vivacious person, much of what had to do with her being married to Don Aldrich. As a wee child, I always looked forward to visiting grandpa and grandma. bursting into the house, I was greeted by the smell of jasmine oil. My first priority was to get to the cookie jar which contained Graham Chracters…usually stale and so much the better. It’s a scent and taste that I still relish. Grandma Hazel indulged me in piano, painting and drawing (pastels, charcoal, oil, and achrylic). Granpa had me out in his garage/workshop using power tools and hammering nails when I was all of 5 yrs. old (much to mom’s most protective dismay). Long story short, Grandma Hazel had a lot of hutzpa until grandpa left her. He was her life. So much of what she was as a person went out of her when he left (and that’s another story regarding WHY he booked, (but he told me why he had to get the hell out of dodge when I visited him in Sonora). I could go on and on about this, but save to say…both grandpa and grandma were very strong influences in my life despite their shortcomings. To my grandma, I owe my articstic inclinations and to my grandpa, I owe my mechanical inclinations and my manhood (still working on that). Between the two of them…I would give grandpa the most credit due to the time he spent with me and when he said to me, “My job is to make sure you don’t turn out to be a complete momma’s boy.” That stuck with me all the way until my present age. Thank you, grandpa! It was sad to see my grandma lose her identity over the loss of her husband…she had so much going for her, but I can only assume that her inspiration came from being married to him. To me, that’s sad. And that’s the note she and I ended on. And one final note: Grandpa was like the dad I never had. I miss him. Like Bonnie (my sis) with her rings, I have my own momento. I have a ship’s compass from when my grandpa was in the merchant marines. I like to think that when I’m not sure which way to turn, grandpa is telling me to head, “True North.” In other words, follow your own true path.


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