Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Tale of Two Rings

I count among my foremost treasures my mother's engagement ring that she passed down to me on my 21st birthday. Ever since that day, it has been a constant on my right ring finger. It is part of a matching wedding set, purchased in 1972 from Meig's Jewelry  here in my hometown of Tahlequah. 25 years later, in 2007, my fiance' was then my boyfriend and he purchased my promise ring from the same jewelry store, keeping a family tradition.

My parent's marriage ended in divorce, twice to be exact, but my mother always treasured her wedding ring set. As I was growing up, my mother raised me as a single parent, having sole custody of me. I was long told the story that when my wedding day came, my mother was giving me her wedding ring to maybe wear on a necklace or do what ever I wanted to with it. After my Grandpa A.D. passed away in 1984 and my parents divorced for the second and final time, my mother and I went to live with Grandma Cleva. We were three generations of women living under the same roof. People would often tell us we needed our own TV comedy sitcom. It was during those years when I was raised by Mom and Grandma that I saw them exemplify through their living the meaning of a strong woman. There were so many so many financial difficulties they faced. This was back before the days of enforcing child support payments, which my father constantly failed to pay. There were so many stumbling blocks they encountered along life's way, but they held our family together with their determination. As I grew into a young woman, the three of us worked as a team to make it, and we did.  

The three of us dreamed together about what my wedding day would be like one day and what a joyous day it would be for all three of us. My mother passed away tragically in 2001, she was 49 and I was 26,  after she had long fought a courageous battle against kidney disease and heart failure complications. My Grandma Cleva, who was second mother to me, would periodically remind me that if something happened to her before I got married, exactly where my mother's ring was located in our house and in which ring box.
Grandma passed away in 2009 at age 82 and heroically battling back against so many illnesses.

As my wedding day has drawn nearer, I have come to a decision about my wedding ring. I have made the decision to take my mother's wedding ring as my own wedding ring. I talked to my fiance' Craig and he told me if the ring needed to be re-sized, he would take it to the jeweler and take care of it. I recalled the long-told story with fondness as I opened the box where the ring was located and took out the ring box.       

I remember as a young girl, my maternal grandmother Grandma Cleva losing her wedding ring. Grandpa A.D., the love of her life, had passed away suddenly of a heart attack after 36 years of marriage. I remember the adults sifting through every inch of the house looking for the ring to no avail.

As I became engaged to the man of my dreams and we began making our wedding plans, the fact that my two foremost heroes in life did not live to be standing here beside me during this time has sometimes cast a sadness into my heart. As I began to open the ring box, that feeling was about to change.  

When I opened it, I discovered there were two rings in the box. I saw my mother's wedding ring and with it, setting on top of it, was another ring. I remembered the ring as soon as I saw it. The last time I had seen it, I was a very young girl marveling at my Grandma Cleva's wedding ring as I felt her loving hand. Grandma had found her wedding ring and she had placed it in the box with my mother's ring, so that when the day came that I opened it to get my mother's ring, I would find hers, as well. I am going to wear Grandma Cleva's wedding ring on my right hand ring finger on my wedding day. As I tried first my mother's ring on my left hand ring finger, and then Grandma Cleva's ring on my right hand ring finger, I saw that both of them fit perfectly, no re-sizing needed. Another special "sign" for me. When I wear them, or even when I just hold the ring box in my hand, I can feel a part of them and I am so thankful for this extraordinary gift.  

I find that the word "happy" really doesn't even begin to describe just how wonderful I feel inside to have been given not just "a" blessing, but a double blessing of having both of these rings. I personally do not care if I recieve any other ring in this lifetime. If I would be given a $1 million dollar wedding ring to wear, I would not trade my choice of making my mother's ring mine for anything. That is the priceless gift andhe testament of two women who gave me an extraordinary amount of love, a love so strong that even though they are no longer here in this life, they gave me enough love in their lifetimes to carry me for the rest of my life.

I chose to set my wedding date June 4, making our wedding day the day before Grandma Cleva and Grandpa A.D.'s June 5 anniversary date. I have made the choice to walk down the aisle by myself, true to my raising by two amazing women. Although they will not physically be there, I know that they will be walking beside me in spirit as I make my way down the church aisle. There will be not one, but two, special rings I will be wearing, each of them representing a strong Southern woman and encompassing the meaning of a true Steel Magnolia, the two greatest role models I could have ever asked for.  


  1. That is a beautiful story! I love reading about family stories of tradition!

    The closest thing we have to that is when I was having my bridal portraits done I went to this old dormitory that is now Bed & Breakfast on the local campus here. My grandmother lived there in the 40s & that's where my grandfather picked her up for their first date (a blind one too.) They've been married for 61 years.

    My dad asked my mom to marry him years later in the exact same spot that my grandfather first saw my grandmother.

    So...I had to have my bridal portraits done there. It was perfect!

    Good luck planning the wedding!