Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Charlie's Ring

As my grandmother lay dying, she handed me a box. It was a ring box, cheap and felt-lined.  She was sitting in her wheelchair, her mobility mostly gone due to diabetes. Her hands were cold, as they'd been of late. I had given her a muff to keep her hands warm and I wondered if she was using it.

Inside the ring box was, of course, a ring. It had a minuscule diamond in the center of a square piece of onyx. I'd never seen this before. I knew that she loved dolls and was very familiar with her doll collection and how much it meant to her. We'd recently had to put much of her stuff into storage, including many of her dolls. I had bought for her years ago a hardware-store quality components box which she delighted in using as her jewelry box. I had the same one full of resistors and wire, but she put chains and bracelets into hers.

I didn't recognize the ring from that box (which I'd recently packed and put into storage). The diamond was tiny. Worthless, really, since I knew then as I do now that diamonds are worth no money and that paying for a diamond is like paying for compost. But it was old, I could tell that. The onyx wasn't polished, the style old and plain.

I put the ring on my finger, and it nearly fit my middle one on my right hand (on left it rubbed weird against my wedding band).

"Thank you," I said. "What for?"

"It belonged to my father. I want you to have it."

I turned it around a few times on my hand before returning it to the box. It didn't fit quite right, but it was simple, which I liked.

My grandmother died soon after.  Before she did, she told me her father's name was Charlie. So I always called it Charlie's ring. Great-grandfather's ring sounded pretentious.

I wore it rarely. Mostly for company parties, when such things existed. Lately it resided in its box inside my wife's jewelry box inside our closet.

That would be the same closet that was ransacked by a thief last Thursday, on Pi day. The thief took all the jewelry save a few scrap pieces. But he (she? is this a time to be gender neutral?) took the box with the ring, along with my deceased uncle's watch, along with irreplaceable pieces that belonged to my wife, and some crap electronics that I hope he can't sell ever because he forgot to swipe their chargers.

The ring was entrusted to me by my grandmother, whom I dearly miss despite all her flaws. When the ring was taken from me, it brought up feelings of loss that I couldn't comprehend until recently. The ring itself is worthless. The memory is priceless. I won't let him take that from me.

Grandma, I miss you. I'm sorry I lost your ring. I won't lose you, no matter what. I promise.

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ubi solitutinem faciunt, pacem appellant.