When I first found it, I wasn’t even sure what it was. I was going through a trunk of personal items that had belonged to my dad when I ran across a little brown jewelry box. Dad passed away when I was just fifteen; I’d gathered an array of his possessions and kept them tucked away in what came to be known as my “Memory Trunk.” For some odd reason that day, I felt like pilfering through Dad’s stuff.
The jewelry box was pretty battered, so I didn’t expect to find anything of much importance within it. I opened it slowly, so as not to overextend the hinges. Inside were Dad’s compass, a small (and quite worn) silver crucifix, and his Boy Scout medals (including his cherished Eagle Scout medal). I picked through the various items, remembering how much my dad had loved the Boy Scouts and how proud he was of his many accomplishments in the organization. I tried to figure out what the crucifix belonged to, since it had a loop at the top. It wasn’t from his rosary; I had found that in a different spot long ago. Then, nestled in the back corner of the jewelry box, I noticed a tarnished, inconspicuous ring. I lifted it out of the box and gave it a closer look.
“What was he keeping that for?” I wondered to myself.
Then it dawned on me. The ring I held between my fingers was my dad’s wedding ring! Having worked in a machine shop all of his life, Dad never wore the ring because it could easily get caught in the equipment and cause loss of a finger – or even an entire hand. For that reason, and because he had large, big-boned hands that made wearing the ring cumbersome, Dad kept the ring in his top dresser drawer for safe keeping. I’d been told that it had been lost. Yet, there it was, resting in the crook of my palm!
I showed the kids my discovery, letting them finger through the contents of the jewelry box and telling them what I knew about each piece. It was fun for all of us, and I was happy to have one more connection between my children and the Grandfather they’d never met. After we’d gone through everything, we put the box away and went back to our usual routine. I didn’t think much more of it after that, at least in terms of how it might have impacted the kids.
I didn’t think much more of it, that is, until our middle son became engaged. To be completely accurate, I didn’t think of it; my son did. Just after he and his beloved announced their engagement, Luke came to talk to me. He seemed a tad uneasy, and I could tell he had something on his mind. It took him a while to get to the point.
“Mom,” he said. “What do you think of my having Grandpa’s wedding ring to use as my wedding ring?”
I was completely taken aback. I’d figured that my children would eventually want to have their grandfather’s memorabilia, but I in no way anticipated that any of them would want to have his wedding ring as their own.
Being the poised and keen person that I am, I gave the most sublime and profound response. “Uh…would it even fit you?”
“It fits me perfectly. I already tried it on,” he replied. “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and was waiting for the right time to ask you. Could I have it?”
By now, I had a better grip on myself. “Oh, my goodness,” I mumbled. “Well, yes. Of course you can have Grandpa’s ring.”
I have to take a commercial break here and put in a plug for my three other children. The hardest part of giving away my dad’s wedding ring is having only one to give. Luke’s siblings reacted with astounding love and selflessness! Luke graciously asked for his siblings’ consent, and they gave it without hesitation. They felt that it’s right for Luke to have their grandpa’s ring because he’s the first in the family to get married. Luke, on his part, realizes that he’s carrying on my dad’s legacy not just for himself, but also for his siblings, and the next Fenelon Clan generation as well. I am so very proud of all my children!
Last week, I took Dad’s wedding ring to the jeweler to see what it’s made of (it didn’t feel like gold) and whether it might be polished up a bit for Luke. The jeweler took it to the back room and returned a couple of minutes later with a brilliantly gleaming-gold ring! Dad’s! The ring is made of brass (the only thing Dad and Mom could afford when they got married 63 years ago), but the jeweler was able to bring it to a marvelous sheen that uncannily mimics gold. The jeweler placed Dad’s wedding ring in a ring box and handed it to me.
“I can’t believe it,” I gasped. “I never in the world thought Dad’s ring could look so handsome!” I’m pretty sure the shop workers prayed that I would stop blubbering and thanking them and just leave so that they could get on to their other customers. I finally did.
The way Dad’s wedding ring “cleaned up” holds great significance. It hasn’t only been given a new shimmer, it’s also been given a new life, one filled with hope and promise. When Luke dons his grandpa’s wedding ring, he’ll be giving testimony both to his heritage and to his future. As he does so, his grandfather will be right there by his side – at that moment, and for always.