Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Ring

I wear an engagement ring on the middle finger of my left hand. Because it is a bit big, on top of that ring I wear a silver band that reads, "wishes do come true" as a ring guard of sorts. Although still waiting for that statement to in fact be true, I have a ton of hope. Occasionally, I take the silver band off and wear my mom's wedding band, or a ring from Gram O'Sh

Anyway, back to the engagement ring. It is gold, with a very simple yet elegant setting. A small diamond set with two really tiny diamonds to each side. It was the prettiest ring Granny could afford to purchase back in the 40's. The story behind it is a little twisted, but I still love it.
My grandmother gave me this ring on my 16th birthday. I knew it was special to her and could not understand why she entrusted me with this beautiful ring. I wasn't the most responsible teen. Looking back, maybe she hoped I'd lose it and then no one would know what truly happened to it. I proved her wrong and still have the ring.

She did state that I could not wear it all the time, but I didn't really understand what she meant. Although she moved here from Sicily in her late teens, she still spoke very broken English and sometimes things were lost in translation. I thought she meant I could only wear it for special occasions. Not so. I came home and showed my parents the extravagant gift from Granny. Both parents had the same reaction, "She gave you THAT ring?!!?" Neither one would divulge the story behind the ring, but I knew that the story they weren't telling me was something very intriguing which only made me more than persistent.

Being a tad relentless, my mom finally gave in and told me the following…

When one of my dad's older brothers was leaving for the war (I'm a bit fuzzy on whether it was the end of WWII or the Korean War) he left behind a girlfriend. She lived down the street and my grandmother adored her. I believe her name was Rose, but I could be very wrong. For the purposes of this story, she will stay Rose. Granny LOVED Rose and hoped that one day Rose would join the family. Granny received a letter from her son asking her to pick out an engagement ring because he was getting married. Since Granny assumed it was for Rose, she bought a very special ring. The best she could afford. My ring.

My uncle then wrote stating the day he would be flying home. When that day arrived everyone, including Rose, went to the airport to pick him up. He stepped off the plane with the woman who became my aunt. To say Gran was furious is the mother of all understatements!! She was one irate Sicilian and you never messed with my Gran on a good day. Messing with her when angry was sheer stupidity. Gran swore like a truck driver alternating from broken English to Sicilian and back to broken English again. She didn't know who this woman was and could not imagine giving that ring to anyone but Rose. (I always felt bad for Rose. Can you imagine standing at the airport watching the man you love step off a plane with another woman. He actually did Rose a favor. It turns out that my uncle was not the nicest person in the world, but that story is for another day.)

Anyway, my grandmother was not giving that ring to anyone except Rose. And she especially wasn't giving it to that "putana". Yeah, my Gran had a temper. The woman who was to be my aunt already had a child but was never married. Being that era, having a child put her in putana status immediately. If Rose wasn't receiving the ring, she was keeping it. My uncle and grandmother fought for days. My aunt and uncle eventually moved out of state (without the ring), but every time they came to visit, my uncle would look for "his" ring. I always wondered where she hid it because my uncle practically turned her house upside down.

Gran held on to it for a ridiculous amount of years until I turned 16. She must have decided that he would never take the ring away from his niece, but no one in the family was taking any chances. I was instructed that when my aunt and uncle visited, I could not wear the ring. How silly. Was he really going to wrestle his 90 lb. niece to the ground for a ring. Knowing him...possibly. As I got older (and a little more bolder) I started wearing it all the time; turning the ring around so it looked like a thin gold band. My uncle was persistent though. He searched for his ring when Gran died and was more than crabby that no one knew its whereabouts. Until recently, very few knew it was in my possession.

I treasure my ring. Not because of the bad karma or story that is associated with it, but because it is the only item I have from Gran. It is a simple and beautiful ring which was purchased for someone whom she cared deeply. She loved the ring and stuck by her principles. Therefore, I also love my ring and will pass it on to Kat one day.

I wish I knew what happened to Rose.

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