Reclaiming the gems of our history and story
I had an idea recently. My mother has been dead for 12 years, my father for 27. I have kept their wedding rings stored in a safe place. I could not wear either ring, my mother’s being way too small, my father’s being way too big. I am a different size, a different person than either of them.
Off to the jewelry store I went. I brought out both rings, placed them on the counter, talked about them, what they meant, how I wanted to be able to wear them in some fashion.
So, the jeweler and I thought about ideas. Why not combine them into one ring? Yes, this seemed like the perfect solution.
I also had a delicate gold necklace that belonged to my father’s mother repaired, as the clasp was loose and I didn’t wear it for risk of losing it. I never met her, as she died when my father was 7. I was named after her, so there was a deep connection that I always felt. I wanted to acknowledge that more, claim that more.
I picked up the items yesterday.
The necklace is repaired. I wear it around my neck and feel the presence of the grandmother that I never met, but whose namesake I was. It’s interesting to note that I find some comfort in that, some connection to my roots.
The ring is on my finger. My parents loved each other deeply, so it is right that the rings are melded into one. After my mother died, I remember asking for some sign in my grief. At that moment, a beam of sunlight came through the window and landed directly on their wedding photo. A message that they were together again.
The diamonds sparkle. I remember playing with that ring on my mother’s hand to see the lights and sparkles reflected on the wall. I remember my father wearing his ring on special occasions, as his work of being a plasterer and bricklayer was labor that would be damaging to a ring.
I look at the ring now. I see my own aging hands, and also then remember seeing the aging hands of my parents that I noticed as the years went by. Aging, worn, loving hands that wore these jewels. Father’s hands that worked so hard to give his family all that he could. Mother’s hands that cooked and sewed and soothed and comforted.
I see this symbol of the bond and love between them, and feel gratitude for that, and for them as my parents. Of course we had issues. Who doesn’t? They worked hard to give me what they didn’t have, being immigrants from Sicily. But, we all have some pain that we carry from our past.
I do not minimize any of the suffering that childhood can bring, being that we are human and are raised by humans. Fallible. Vulnerable. Fragile at times, strong at others. Human. Some suffer terribly at the hands of very wounded parents. Some are graced with loving homes that build foundations for life.
As I continue on this aging journey, I find the desire to connect back to my past, to my parents, to my ancestors, to my family’s history. To try and make more sense of the story, of my story. To blend into and with that story while still continuing to work on my own unique chapter.
I am simply one of a long line of people before me. I am connected to them. I am part of that group, that family. For an only child with no relatives that I am close to or that are nearby, this feels important. To feel somehow a part of something bigger than me feels important. To appreciate all who came before me. To appreciate their gems, their gifts, their presence in my life and their presence inside me.
To appreciate my own gems, my own value, my own self. Connected to my ancestors, and yet my own unique being. Linked yet apart. Together yet alone. Still here on this earth, for however long. Still alive. Carrying on the line. Carrying on and continuting to write my chapter of the story, here, now, in each moment.