Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Mother's Gift Is a Rare Treasure

It's a cinch I'll never be a hand model.

(The action shot.)

For the past couple of years now, my mom has been trying to get me to accept from her a diamond ring she has worn for most of her married life. It is not the actual wedding ring my father gave her, nor is it the wedding ring from her current husband (a lovely man and delightful grandpa to whom she's been married nearly 38 years). Still, it's a ring that has been on her finger for the better part of 60 years, and it is probably one of the things all five of us (her children) associate most strongly with our mother.

When Mom first started trying to gift this ring to me early, she was still wearing it. To tell the truth, the very thought of taking it from her was almost repugnant to me. First of all, I worked until 2007 at an estate planning firm and was appalled by the almost predatory nature some children exhibited toward their parents' belongings. I did not share their feelings and felt unwilling to risk even the appearance of what was, in my mind, a form of covetousness. Watching children and other relatives attach way too much importance to "things" and not enough to each other after a family member's death was heartbreaking, and while I was invested in the idea of having something special in my possession one day that reminded me of my mother, I refused to have an agenda as to what that something special might be.

My mother, however, did have an agenda. She wanted me to have that ring, and she wanted me to have it now. In her mind, she had worked out the details of how she would distribute her personal belongings in the way she felt was most "fair," and I respected that process. My argument, and the source of considerable discomfort for me, was her eagerness to start giving these things away while she was still living (and would hopefully continue to live for years). Her haste made me uneasy, and I worried (somewhat irrationally, I must admit) that this premature gift-giving might somehow compromise her longevity. Sort of jinx her, in other words. Like if she gave things away, she might be more likely to pass away herself. Feeling as I did, you can understand why I refused to take the ring.

As time passed, Mom would introduce the subject now and again. I would quickly shut her down, ending the conversation. I assumed she had given up on the whole idea until I visited her last May. She told me that the ring hurt her hand because it turned around and pressed painfully against her fingers. She urged me to take it and wear it. She wanted to have the pleasure of seeing it on my finger and knowing I enjoyed it. Mom actually became teary talking about this, and I think at one point I may have mumbled reluctantly that if she really wanted to give me the ring that badly, I would take it. She didn't hear me, I guess. (That's what you get for not wearing those hearing aids full-time, Mom!)

Just before she came to my house in September for our family reunion, we had yet another discussion about the ring. Mom informed me that she was no longer wearing it and bemoaned the fact that I was unwilling to accept the gift she so wanted to give me. It was clear that she did not understand my reluctance, and I think she even thought me ungracious in my refusal to accept her offering. She wasn't happy about it, and somehow, the fact that she was no longer wearing the ring made me feel more willing to give in and respect her wishes. I told her I would take the ring.

She gave it to me last month, and I honored her request to have it sized immediately (from a size 4 1/2!!), so I could start wearing it. Of course, Mom invited (even encouraged) me to change the rather old-fashioned setting in any way that would please me, but I had no intention of doing that. What good would my keepsake be if it didn't look exactly the same as it had on my mother's finger? I wanted to be able to look at that ring and see her hand. That was the whole beauty of it. That (and I'm sure my siblings would agree) was what made her gift to me so precious. Not the appraised value, but the sentimental value.

So this post is for my mom. (One of the lovely things about having a blog is being able to publicly express your feelings to family members who live far away.) It's the next best thing to bearing your testimony in front of them at sacrament meeting. (Explanation of bearing testimony.) But I digress. The thing is, I want my mother to know how much I enjoy wearing her beautiful ring and how happy I am to have it. Seeing it sparkle brightly on my finger reminds me of Mom every single time and turns my heart to her in a uniquely visceral way that I can't quite explain. To be honest, I am continually surprised at how deeply this gift moves me; and I'm glad to be wearing it now, while my mother is still here, so that the joy and connection I feel when I look at it (which is often) is not marred by the grief that will inevitably accompany it once I've had to say good-bye to her, for a season.

In other words, Mom, you were right.

And I just wanted to thank you as graciously as you deserve.



jen said...

Obviously very precious, that was a beautiful post.
Just to show how out of the jewelry loop she may be, I think Heidi saw a ring very similar to that and loved it (NOT that she's in the market looking! Just expressing an opinion). Just goes to show that styles may change, but they always come back at one time or another!
As a side note, my word verification has an umlaut. Wonder how to put that in . . .

Janis said...

What a beautiful post Sue. The ring is beautiful and you absolutely did the right thing by accepting it now. May you treasure it forever!

jen said...

Stupid me. It was a double i. Whoops.

Karen Sue said...

I got a ring for my anniversary a couple of years ago. My hubby asked if I would like jewelry and what. My grandma had a ring with a very small red stone, not even a ruby, according to the appraisal. But that reminded me of her, so i went to the jewelry store and saw a gold ring with a small red stone set low and said THAT'S IT. And I have it, although my mom has Grandma's ring, this one reminds me and I smile thinking of her.

karen said...

My parents have done a similar thing with many of their belongings, and I understand how hard it is to accept gifts of that nature. I found it a bit macabre, and like I might look greedy "choosing" the items that meant the most to me. But I know they like to see you enjoy their gift. That's the great enjoyment of giving! So enjoy - the ring is beautiful.

Snarky Belle said...

SO that post made me cry. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet mother, and a testament to the wonderful daughter you are. Thanks for sharing.

The ring is absolutely gorgeous!!

Katie Blacker said...

that is gorg ring. and even better because it was from someone you love!

Carolyn said...

Such a lovely post.

I adore the ring. I have a affinity for old things with a story. Yours is priceless.

Enjoy it.

Heather Anderson said...

I am glad you took it, I think kids should take all they can get from their parents.

Respectfully Submitted,

Matthew D. Anderson

Darlene said...

Sue, the ring looks beautiful on your hand and I am so glad you finally decided to accept it. Now if I could just get everyone else to accept their jewelry, I would be happy. I just don't wear much jewelry anymore. I do love necklaces still. They don't hurt my fingers or wrist. I did cry all the way through this though. I went on thinking you might post about the crazy way DWTS went last night. That 18year old Louie should have gone.

Anyway, thank you so much for your comments. What a lucky mom I am to have all of you.

Sue said...

Actually, on the DWTS front, I think Mike the football player is a little worse than Louie. But it was completely unfair for Natalie to be gone!

Em said...

so beautiful. i love the vintage look as well. definitely no need to mess with that kind of beauty. i covet sue!!!;-)

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