Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's in a Ring?

I'm not the type to wear jewelry. Each piece of jewelry that I wear more often than not has a meaning. Usually you'll see me with my Easter cross necklace my mom gave me, my Alzheimer's necklace in support of Mema and Granddaddy, a bracelet from my mom that reads "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams", my baptism ring, and two silly bands for my favorite college and pro football teams. Everything is pretty no frills.

A few months ago I decided I wanted a purity ring and found the perfect one for $10 on ShopSCAD. It was called "Waiting" and had a Mona Lisa-esque face on it with filigree on the sides. My mom got it for me and two weeks later it cracked in half. I was heartbroken. Yes it was cheap. Yes I only had it for a short time. But the significance behind the ring meant everything to me and to have it lying in the palm of my hand in two pieces gave me a distinct feeling of desolation. 
      des-o-la-tion (n): -a state of complete emptiness or destruction
                               -anguished misery or loneliness
      synonyms: devastation - havoc - ravage - destruction - solitude

I know! I know! I sound totally dramatic right now! How could a plastic ring breaking make me feel totally empty? Because it was more than plastic. It meant something. There was significance. There was a powerful reason I was wearing it and when the ring broke part of me felt like the reasoning was gone too. 

Up to that point I had never really felt like that about a piece of jewelry and I still didn't really understand why I was so emotional about it. But this past week I was thrown into the pit yet again by ANOTHER piece of bling. 

When my dad's side of the family started having kids it was boy after boy after beautiful baby boy. My nanny and my granny (my dad's grandmother and mother) set-up a deal... the first granddaughter would get both of their engagement rings. And guess who came along... my first word ended up being "pretty" because all I ever heard from any of them was "pretty girl".

Nanny died when I was around seven years old, and Granny continued to call me her first granddaughter rather than my name half the time. It was a badge I was happy to wear... even though she only ended up having two granddaughters. I've known about the ring deal practically my whole life and had a plan that if my granny passed away before I was engaged that I wanted the two diamonds to be included in my own engagement ring. When I heard that Granny passed away last week it occurred to me that I could use her ring as a substitute for the plastic purity ring that had broken not long before. What would be more perfect than wearing my granny's diamond in remembrance of her and as a promise to God? She would be proud, right?

One of the first things my dad said when we got to Virginia was "Granny didn't leave you her ring in the will. But here's this one." He handed me a sterling silver ring with a marquise cut jewel on it. It could be a diamond... but it's doubtful. And as the days passed, the resentment thickened. It seemed my granny had all but crossed me off the will, leaving me a box of quarters. My other female cousin got practically everything my granny had ever told me would be handed down to my daughters and me. I even found out the gold "Y" pin that my dad had given me as a consolation of sorts was actually supposed to go to my sister-in-law... so I handed it over.

As for the ring I got. Nobody knows the story behind it. It might be from some guy who Granny was engaged to before she eventually broke off the engagement and then he passed away. Or it could be from this other guy; a man that my dad and my aunts avoid talking about who was also engaged to Granny... a man that may or may not have intentionally burned down half of my granny's house many years ago. So I have this ring that I don't really know what it is or what it signifies, and the desolate feeling is back. Please don't misunderstand me. It wasn't about having something worth some amount of money - it was about having something that MEANT something to my granny. Something significant. Something with a reason behind it. It seems that every hypothesis of this ring I wear has a negative connotation. This is what I'm left with.

For some reason I can't take it off. I act like I don't want it. It hurts me so badly and there's a sting of rejection every time I twirl it on my finger, but I know there has to be some lesson in this. So for now I'll wear the "reject ring" and wonder what the story is behind it. Maybe I'll still wear it as my purity ring, a ring I'll be more than happy to trade in when the day comes. Genesis 41:51 says: Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” Maybe when I have a ring of my own, that will be my Manasseh... to forget the hurt, rejection, and desolation of the ring before it. Because even if my husband gives me a ring made of straw, I'll know I'm worth more to him than a box of quarters. 

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