Joan's Blog

"Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat"
JANUARY 22, 2010 5:29PM

Platinum Tears

Rate: 43 Flag

The day my mother died I was at the doctor's office.  December 30, 1996. The first and last time I can ever remember having the flu.

A doctor from the nursing home called to say my mother would not make it to the evening. Did I know how to reach my brother, he asked? I was not first on the call list. My brother was the first to be called in case of emergency and the doctor could not find him. Only a few more hours, he told me. I thanked him and hung up.

I was surprised to be on the list at all. My mother had disowned me after my marriage to a black man seven years earlier. She never answered my letters and if it was my voice on the other end of the phone, she hung up.

Once, she screamed into the phone "Don't ever call here again."

And now she would be gone for good in just a few hours.

I ached at the thought of my mother dying alone. But that is what happened.

Several years later my brother whispered to me that he thought I was the rightful owner of my mother's platinum wedding band. It was a thin band with diamonds around it. As a child, I thought it was beautiful. My mother told me once that she bought it herself because my father never got around to buying her a wedding ring when they eloped.

My brother told me that as the only daughter, it should be mine. I knew better. As the only daughter I had been nothing but a disappointment to my mother.  She would not have wanted me to have it.

A few years ago I made the pilgrimage to the cemetery for the first time with my brothers. I put the requisite stone on the headstone as my brother instructed me. It was a Jewish cemetery and that is the custom, he told me.

I left that day feeling a numbness I couldn't explain. I felt no grief or sadness. I felt nothing. I had spent years mourning the loss of a mother years before she died.

And now I was the bearer of her wedding ring. The only ring she owned, the ring she paid for herself. The ring that had been removed only after death.

It was the realization that it would always remain in my top drawer that finally caused my tears to flow.


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Hard to read. But well done.
How sharper than a serpent's tooth is . . . the cruel rejection by a parent. This is so wrenching. Well done. But wrenching.
Oh, oh, oh.

Not one word wasted.

Damn. I'm sorry.
EP! This is so fine, Joan...I feel that loss...your mother buying her own ring...this is stunning. xox
Very well written post. I am so sorry that your mother choose that road and how it affected you. Peace to you,
Heartbreaking, sweet Joan. xoxo
It is hard to know what to say. She didn't deserve you.
Oh, sister . . . what a blow. The prose is spare, and unrelenting, and poetic . . . and expressive.
An aching read. Just aching. I wish your mom could've seen who you are/were.
That ring is a reminder of estrangement. I wonder how such a thing can be reconciled after a death. These are the kinds of stories that remind me to be aware, to reconcile, to search for peace when that rift can't be mended. I hurt for your heart, Joan. You are worthy of the best of a mother's love.
I do understand this...well written
I hated to read this as much as I love how well written it was.
I'm so sorry. I just can't understand why a parent would care as long as thier child is happy. I wish she could have understood for you.
There is nothing as hard as estrangement of this sort. Thanks for being brave enough to write about it.
This was heart wrenching Joan. A parents rejection, especially because of someone we love, is hard to live with. But you did what you could do. Let the ring stay in the drawer, it's where it belongs!
Kathy, I so appreciate you reading this. Thank you.

AtHomePilgrim, that is exactly right: the cruel rejection by a parent. Cruel is the right word.

wakingupslowly, I just appreciate you so much.

Robin, oh, you make me smile. You are so kind. Thanks very much for understanding.

Rita, I'm glad you stopped by. I appreciate you reading this and commenting.

Many thanks for stopping by, sweet Amanda.

tai, you stopped my heart for a minute when I read your words. Thank you for those words. We were a mismatched pair.

Owl, thanks for your words and thanks for calling me sister.
beautiful, Joan. I don't understand parents who disown their children. How can you disown your own? But look at the amazing mother you have turned out to be. I hope that gives you comfort.
mypsyche, thank you. I really wished that too. After a while, I just had to accept that it wouldn't happen.

WSFTC, I think the wedding ring posts are the most painful to read. I'm so glad you read mine. Thanks for such kindness.

C.K. Dexter Haven, your words are like a balm. And you are right. The ring is just a symbol of estrangement and sadness. I wonder where it will end up... My daughter doesn't want it either.

Mimetalker, I think our experiences were different, but I know you must understand.

WalkAwayHappy, you make feel better with so few words. I appreciate you so much.

cartouche, I appreciate you stopping by. Thanks.

Lunchlady2, it is a mystery, isn't it? As a mother, I cannot think of a single thing that would separate me from my child. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

sixtycandles, I appreciate you reading this. And thank you for calling me brave.

scanner, thanks for reading this. Yes, the ring stays in the drawer.
fingerlakeswanderer, I cannot imagine disowning my own. Thank you for your kind words. I became the mother I always wanted.
Beautifully written. Stories that come straight from that raw spot in our hearts are the best. Usually the saddest, but you've told it so beautifully the first thing I wanted to do was say "Sell the damn ring!" But, you hold onto it for a reason and you'll know what to do with it when you're ready.
I think people generally do the best they can, give the most they can. Unfortunately, some people don't have very much to give. That makes me sad. Makes me glad I'm adopted. Although...just a's not to late to find a mom you deserve, to get "adopted." Even though my mother and father were (are) wonderful, they aren't really like me (nerdy, bookish, artsy, foul mouthed, dog loving) but they have always encouraged me to make connections with those who were. So, I've had several Other Mothers throughout my childhood and my adulthood, mentors who became friends, and then family. Maybe there's one of those out there for you. There's a lot of love in this world, and it doesn't always come from the direction you expect.
Platinum, a heavy, grayish-white, highly malleable and ductile metallic element, resistant to most chemicals, practically unoxidizable except in the presence of bases, and fusible only at extremely high temperatures.

Tears, this fluid appearing in or flowing from the eye as the result of emotion, esp. grief.

This touched so deep I am not sure if I can reach that far. Perfection.
Your mother's rejection had nothing to do with you who are a loving person and mother yourself. I know you painfully know the difference and why you are a fiercely loving mother yourself. When the time is right, I would give that ring to your daughter, a child made from love. Very sad that your mother died not knowing how to open her heart and truly love. I can relate to your post and I know that some people have a weak capacity to love and do not care to grow strong in love - we can not make someone love us especially when they lack the capacity. Just know that you have been open to loving.
Well you made me cry. Harsh reality, beautifully written. Still having trouble getting past the nursing home calling you to get your brother's number with an "oh by the way" about her impending death...what an all-around sucker punch....
Painful to read, so much loss.
Heartbreaking. I'm so sorry, Joan. You've written of this with such stark honesty - no pretense, just reality. Stunning.
Your mother was wrong, so wrong. And her life was so much the less for it. But she chose it, you didn't. And I'm sorry for the loss she inflicted upon you.
Tremendous writing, Joan.
Joan, you communicated so much intense feeling in such spare, eloquent prose. I am glad you were finally able to cry, because the numbness would have been worse. Thanks for sharing this story.
Oh Joan, this was so heartwrenching. So sad. So unavoidable? To imagine a mother disowning her child for her choice of love? But also so well expressed & written. Peace.
I'm so sorry this happened to you. She could not have been that happy a person if she could be so cruel to her daughter.
Beautifully done.
Very well written, Joan.
I am so sorry that your mother rejected you. Keeping her ring in the drawer is an act of kindness on your part.
A touching tightly written story, Joan. I would hope that your inclusion on the "first call" list may mean your mother changed her thinking at the end.
I had to come back and read this again. When my mother died, I felt numb as well...nothing...what I finally mourned was what she never got to be....xox
Oh Joan, that is so sad and I'm sorry you were not there.
I know that feeling.
I remember my mother's wedding ring from childhood, but it has long since disappeared, even though she is still alive.
I don't think the ring even means anything to me anymore.

Well conveyed, and again, I'm sorry for this hardship for you.
skel, thanks for stopping by. I have certainly thought about selling it. I don't want it, but...

Bellwether Vance, I agree with you. But I would like to encourage people with limited capacities for love and acceptance to not have children.

sparking, your comment touches me so deeply. Wow. Thank you.

Mary, you are right. I did become the mother I wanted to have. As far as my daughter taking the ring, I think she feels the way I do. That it has a really sad vibe.

Ann, I hope it is not weird to say, but thank you for crying. Yes, the call was surreal. I'm not sure I had even been told she was in a nursing home. Surreal.

sophieh, thanks for reading. Yes, so much loss.

iamsurly, thank you for reading and for the wow.
Unbreakable, your words just warm my heart. Actually, you just warm my heart. Thanks for reading.

The Almighty Beckster, she is the only one who knew for sure. And I have the feeling she didn't even know.

Linda, thanks so much. I really appreciate your comments.

trilogy, thanks for reading. As mothers, it is incomprehensible, isn't it?

Kathy, oh yes, she was a very unhappy woman. Thanks.
What a painful story of loss. So sad.
This was heart wrenching to read but beautifully and sensitively done. Thank you for sharing something so challenging in such a moving way.
Rated and appreciated.
Steve, thanks. You may be right.

Scarlett, thanks for reading. No, my brother had put me on the list.

Robin, I really understand that.

spotted_mind, thank you for reading this.

full time daughter, It is sad. Thank you.

Dennis, I am glad you stopped by. Thank you for your kind comments.
I say give the ring to your shinning daughter. The living embodiment of love, freedom, and quiet courage. Then perhaps she can give the ring to her daughter, or daughter in law. This can be the method where hate and racism is replaced by love and peace via a circle that cannot be broken. Sort of a symbol of hope for all of us. Your writing touches my heart.
I was so touched by this seeming simple memory full of all the complexities of relationships, disappointment and loss. You hinted at so many things I want to know more about. Spare, beautiful writing. Again.
This post allows us only a glance. It is deep and complicated and raw. Beautifully shared.
Westtexas10, thank you for being you. I do not know that my daughter will ever want it. My mother never acknowledged her which had to have hurt. But we shall see how the story ends...

Gail, thank you for your kind words. I have to write about painful things in very small doses.

The Barking Lot4, "Ghosts only haunt when we make space for them." Wow. That blew me away. Thank you for reading.

scupper, I appreciate you stopping by. Thank you.
Joan, Guess I was hoping upon hope that people see the errors of their ways at the end. Not this time I guess. So sorry.
Beautiful as always! And so heart-wrenching ... R
Beautifully sad post. I must go back & read your earlier ones!
This is so sad. I think that it was brave of you to choose a new love that took risks over the entrenched bitterness of the mother you knew. I used to contemplate the responses of my family if I made a similar choice. I would think, "Do they really love me if their love can be turned off like a switch simply because of whom I might marry?"
Well-told, though painful.
Poignant and painful. rated.
Not sure any words suffice.
We would have been friends.
Oh, my... Just now reading this, and feeling your anguish. And mine... Thank you. R
It takes a lot of courage and a lot of love to follow your heart. I can't say anything else, except that I wish you hadn't had to choose between loves.