My grandmother’s rings

Back in October and November, I was really missing my grandmother. We were very close, and even though she’s been gone for 12 years, there are still times when I miss her terribly. I was her only granddaughter, so I was always special for that. Even when my cousins began to marry, she still said I was her only “born” granddaughter. I was also the daughter of her baby girl—so we always had a really close bond.

We were similar, but also very different. We both had our creative sides, but hers tended toward painting china and growing flowers, while mine leaned more toward writing and enjoying flowers. The need to express emotions came from her side of the family, just the same. (Her own grandfather wrote the story of his life as a surveyor in Indian Territory. It’s quite an interesting tale.) She loved hot coffee—the hotter, the better. I never drink hot drinks. I eat my steak medium rare—just nice and hot, really—and she wanted hers grilled to a miserable gray all the way through.

We had many other things in common, such as our dislike of the wind and the restlessness it made us feel. We both cherished the special family times at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think that’s one reason that missing Thanksgiving was so painful this year; it was like missing the chance to be where she would have expected me to be. We also both loved the Christmas tree lights, and the ornaments that belonged to family. She passed hers to me when she felt that putting up her big tree was getting to be too much trouble for her. She knew I would appreciate the sense of ancestry, and continuity, and the warm, sentimental feelings I would get from seeing those same ornaments on my tree.

When I was a little girl, I would sit beside her in church and hold her hand. Sometimes she would take off her rings and let me play with them. I would try them on, and imagine that I was grown up and married. I always thought those rings were beautiful; they were delicate and dainty, and not gaudy or pretentious. They were the kind of rings I always dreamed a man who loved me would buy for me, just like Grandpa had bought those for Grandma, in 1930.

Grandpa died in 1977, and Grandma never married again. She had never lived on her own, so she took the opportunity to learn to do things for herself. She became strong and independent, and never wanted another husband. She wore those rings every single time I saw her.

When she died in 2005, she was almost 94 years old. The only thing I asked for was a chair she used to have, and it sits in my living room at this very moment. I will also receive the family quilt from her side of the family from my mom one day. I would have loved to ask for her rings, but didn’t feel it was my place. I really thought she’d been buried with them. I didn’t know they were at my mom’s.

When I was home, she said she’d been thinking of having me a ring or something made from Grandma’s rings, and got them out so we could look at them. I put them on, and they fit me perfectly. I told her how I’d always loved those rings, and I would hate to see them taken apart. So she gave them to me just as they are—as they always have been and probably always will be.

When I get old, I will look for a granddaughter somewhere in the family who will love those rings as I have, and I will pass them on. I would love it if I had a daughter, but maybe my son will one day have a daughter. If not, maybe my niece, or her daughter, or the granddaughter of one of my cousins.

Until then, I will cherish those rings, and when I miss her most, I will wear them and remember.

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