Joan's Blog

"Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat"
JANUARY 28, 2013 7:49AM

Ring Finger

Rate: 39 Flag

I can give you $40, the man behind the jewelry store counter tells me.

 It's so small, he says.  He gives a slight shrug to his shoulders. Like an apology.

I wrote about my mother's wedding band several years ago. She never intended for me to have it. It ended up with me because my brother decided I should have it. As the only daughter, it should belong to you.

We both knew better. Her last will and testament said otherwise.

 The one and only time I visited her grave, I watched my brothers as they stood separately and silently in front of her headstone.  Two boys, now grey-haired men, who never agreed on anything, agreed on this: They missed their mother. I watched as they placed the stones on the top of her headstone. The eldest handed me a small smooth stone and nodded towards my mother's grave. 

Later that day, my brother put the ring in my hand.

It belongs to you. We both knew that was a lie.

My mother's hands were large and capable. Her hands kneaded bread and smoothed the wrinkles from the shirts she ironed. Her ring was a circle of tiny diamonds. She bought it herself when she got married. She wore it while she cooked, baked, ironed. Her hands never touched my face, or smoothed my hair. Her hands never touched me.

I knew I would never wear the ring, but I carried it back home with me along with all my regrets.  To not be the daughter your mother wanted is a terrible burden.

I wrote about the ring again when I decided I would sell it. My own daughter didn't want it. She would never wear something from someone who didn't love her own mother.  She knew how it felt to have her face touched, her hair smoothed. The ring stayed in the top drawer for another year or maybe two.

I am standing on the other side of the counter at the jewelry store.

I can give you $40. The man behind the counter shrugs his apology.  It's so small. 

I want to tell him that she had to buy it herself. That she hated her marriage, her daughter, her life. I want him to know that this ring was the best she could give herself. That she deserved better. 

Thank you, no. I'll just hang onto it a while longer.

I smile politely at the man as I slip my mother's ring back into the soft cotton pouch.

It comes back home with me one more time. 

 I wrap it in bubble wrap and carefully write my brother's name and address on the front of the package.

I imagine my mother's tears trapped in each tiny diamond. 

I step out of the post office, light and determined, like the January sun.

 

 

 

 The first story~ 

Platinum Tears Revisited

 

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Comments

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You write SO incredibly well. I am almost always blown away by what you write, I don't remember reading this before but it just grabs me inside my heart. R. And First.
Amy, it is a new piece. The third and last "chapter" about the ring...
Perfect writing Joan. R
Such good writing but so sad.

Hope the kid-yoga thangy is going well. Entrepreneur magazine and other business resources have suggested that yoga for children is an up-and-coming industry with terrific growth potential.
I'm kind of happy you didn't sell it I think it would have hurt more somehow, so sending it back was the perfect thing to do. I too do love how well you write...
Sublime. That's all I've got.
You have great empathy, as well as a kind and forgiving heart.
not a mischosen or misplaced word, joanie - this piece is one of the best. and an ending i didn't expect but was the right thing to do all along; isn't it odd how it sometimes takes us years to figure that out, almost getting it wrong over and over and then ... finally. ann nichols is right - especially those final two sentences are like a poem.
I'm glad you sent it back it back to your brother, Joan and that you wrote abut it here.
Beautiful writing but I don't think this is the end. This ring isn't done yet.
Jaime, thank you so much~

Joisey, thank you. I am really enjoying teaching my kids' yoga classes. Thanks for asking.

Ll2, it took a while to figure out what to do with it. :)

Annie, that's all I need. :)

Jeanette, thank you. I wasn't always so forgiving, but as the years pass, I feel more compassion than anger. (Though I still feel both at times.)

femme, thank you so much. This story about the ring has stayed stagnant for years. And only this week did the right answer appear.

caroline, it's strange that it took me so long to figure this one out. Writing the last chapter here felt good. Thank you.

Zanelle, I have the feeling you are right. The ring may have many more journeys ahead of it. But my story with it is done. :)
Perfectly said and done. It sounds like good closure. I'm not sure she deserved better though.
You deserved better. You didn't get nearly the love and attention you should have been given, but you somehow got something more priceless than any ring.. A loving, giving heart. Empathy. Kindness. Courage. And amazing talent.
You got the finger, all right.
You did what was right.. Better to mail those memories away.
HUGGGGGGGGGGG
So well written. And so sad.
r./
Would it be too pathetic to simply copy Sally's comment and paste it here? I am so glad you turned out to be the polar opposite of your mother. Julia will never write anything like these pieces, on that I will bet.

Lezlie
Super, super crystalizing of complex circles, Joan. Sorry, that just came out that way. This is clean and hard and small. Perfect.

This made me think of a letter I received recently from someone who said she had stolen my jewelry in high school to trade for drugs. She begged my forgiveness. I told her,"You have had to live with this burden for thirty-five years, I have gotten along fine without the jewelry."
You don't need that thing that weighed on her so heavily, Joan. You have wrested such beauty from the telling of it, and now you are free to write new stories, like she never was.
I ditto Lezlie (who ditto'd Sally).
And as a piece of writing - this was fabulous.
Beautiful. Tears trapped in diamonds. I agree there will be more about the ring. They have a way of showing up.
I have my mother's engagement ring. It sits in a black velvet jewelry box tied with a pink ribbon. We share a history of mothers who never touched us or said they loved us. I understand.
This is so well written. Congratulations, Joan.
Joan, you are such an amazing writer. Please forgive me for repeating myself, but you get better with everything you write.
My favorite line - I imagine my mother's tears trapped in each tiny diamond. Wow.
R
Barb, thank you for reading!

jlsathre, thanks so much for reading and commenting.

toritto, I know your daughters treasured their mother. My daughter is the same way...

Sally, thank you for such kind words. xox
Joan,
So glad OS is back, up and running... So Good to read you again.
Beautifully written, Joan. I feel all the spaces between the words, spaces described by the exquisite lace of your words. Space and lace that let mourning out and let sun in. Even the sun that glints off the hard diamonds of your mother's tears and all it means for you to have suffered that and now call it such. Small, like the ring, and saying so much, wrapped in the velvet of a safe pouch. Addressed clearly.
Sheepie, you know it. :)

Jonathan, thank you~

Linda, it's funny how it takes years sometimes to figure something out that seems so obvious!

Cameleon, thank you for reading.

onislandtime, I appreciate you coming by~
I read both posts and was struck by the fact hat not all parents love their children. That's a hard thing to say, but it's the truth.
Sad and powerful. I can't imagine anyone not wanting you as her daughter.
Ah, Lezlie, thank you. No, Julia will never be writing stuff like this... :)

Emily, I love the way you worded that. Really, thank you...

trilogy, I so appreciate that.

Ande, I'm betting the ring has more places to go, and stories to tell. But my part of the story is done. Thanks so much for reading.

Christine, it's heartbreaking, really.
I felt your pain in this piece. Well constructed and poignant. I feel you did the right thing too.
Zuma, many thanks. I appreciate it.

Unbreakable, your kind words mean so much to me. I thought of that line when I realized the tiny diamonds didn't sparkle...

Gabby Abby, yes. That's all she wrote... :)

Vivian, I appreciate you reading!
The pain sucks, but the music you have made out of it is soul-delighting.

~r~
I so identify. I got my mom's engagement ring, and it was stolen. She didn't love me. It is painful, and you capture the sadness so perfectly in so few words in this series.
I see you as a poet. You might explore that more.
Beautifully done Joan. So much encoded in one small ring. Rings true
Maria, thank you. Your comment is so beautiful.

Hells Bells, yes, it's true. Yet inconceivable to me.

Cranky, thank you for coming by. And for such kind words.

Seer, a sigh pretty much wraps it up. :)

Sheila, thank you. After all these years, it seemed to be the clear choice.

Jett, thanks so much for comparing it to music. High praise... :)

Lea, I know that we share some similar mother stories. Yet when I read that one line in your comment: "She didn't love me," I felt like the wind was knocked out of me.
Hells Bells is right, but I still wonder how it can be...

Kasia, thank you. I appreciate you reading and commenting.
This broke my heart. Just broke it. The one thing that made me happiest-yet-saddest, was your daughter's rejection of the ring. I love her love for you and the understanding of the lovelessness of your childhood, and yet it makes me sad that your mother couldn't have been a different person, for your sake, and for hers. I think you made the right choice in sending the ring to one of your brothers.
stones are stones
they hold on to everything that we imbue them with, the become sharp with memory, weighty
perhaps there is a space to forge gold again, reset stone, distill time into something else, a new beginning
and sometimes, just sometimes the best thing we can do is let them go

(as an aside, I love what toritto does)
I'm stunned, by your honesty, your cruel mother, your gift of writing just how your heart hurts. I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry. Your daughter is lucky. May you feel some comfort in that people really do care about your now, for you touch our heart like a child affects a mother. An honest voice, touching a hardened heart, opened now by you.....
Your prose is extremely tight. And you seem to have earnestly left judgment off the page.

This is memoir, yes (forgive me if this is answered elsewhere; I haven't read backwards all the way, just yet)?