Friday, April 17, 2015

Has a nice ring to it

On a spring day in 1981, I sat at my future husband's family kitchen table wondering just when he would tell his parents that we were getting married. He had asked me in theory a few months before, and since we'd asked my parents for their permission a couple of weeks before, my mother's wedding machine was already in motion.

I think we even had a date.

We had been in Atlanta all weekend, sharing meals and conversation with his parents, and through each one I waited for him to share our news. 

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Sunday came, and i sat the kitchen table, wondering if I would have to call my parents and tell them that the wedding was off. he was just not saying anything 

We were minutes from leaving, when the man I had fallen in love with just five months before finally took a seat beside his mother and spoke.

'We've got some news,' he said. 'We're getting married.'

'Why didn't you tell me?' She countered and with those words, she took the diamond off her finger and handed it to me.

A few months before, understanding, surely, that I was the one, she had told me about the ring. It had belonged to my husband's grandmother and became hers when she and her handsome army pilot decided to marry. Family tradition required she hand it down to her son's choice. her only son. I hoped at the time she would be pleased for me to wear it.

I loved the ring, more for what it stood for than for its actual beauty. We reset the small diamond into a setting that suited me, married a few months later and set about making our life together, the heirloom reminder of the legacy of long marriage that came with it circling my hand.

Some years later, I lost the diamond (a whole 'nother story as they say). When I finally told my mother-in-law, she said only: it's a diamond, not your marriage.

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I will tell you that certain moments every mother cements to memory. That first giggle and step, the random day when your boy plays with his sister in the attic in the rain, or when he drives out of the dmv parking lot with you riding shotgun. that day when he says he wants to make his own decisions — which amounts to what time he wants to go to bed — when he leaves the house, heading to the first job that means something to him.

And there is that day when your son sits with you at the supper table where he asks to make those first decisions about his life and tells you he wants to continue the family tradition. with the ring.

The days following that day have filled my life with joy. Meeting him at the jewelry store to figure out just how we would keep it secret. The fact that my current ring is not the one that belonged to his grandmother and great-grandmother didn't matter. We were helping him create a new legacy out of an old one, and we were certain that legacy would matter to the young woman who will be his bride. 

When I joined him the day he picked up the newly reset ring, he apologized for not bringing a handkerchief to wipe my tears. I cried anyway, knowing this particular day, like so many other in my memory, would not repeat.


A week ago tonight, we gathered with the people who will welcome my son into their family, and the four of us waited for our children to arrive. Two hours before, my son had taken his girlfriend on an ordinary walk with the dog to the park, and she had come back wearing the diamond that I had worn on my own hand for the last 12 years.  

And then they joined us, mothers and daughter crying, fathers and son smiling, restaurant patrons offering to take pictures, stopping by the table with best wishes and congrats.

At our center we sparkled, this moment of clarity, cut to memory for us all.
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stay tuned. i begin a new journey writing once a month for the News and Observer on Father's Day 2015 as an Our Lives columnist. I did this 12 years ago, and they have asked me back.

writemuch.blogspot is the original work of author susan byrum rountree. all written work and photography is copyright protected and can only be used with written permission of the author.