"Your biting sarcasm wounds me, Madam..."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Here's the story about the ring

Take a little ride on the way-back machine with me, ok? This may be a long one:

Some time in the late 80's, our house was robbed. It was Mother's Day and my family had been out all day visiting both grandmothers for most of the day. We came through the front door and something was wrong... it's hard to put your finger on what exactly it was, since there was little evidence that anything had happened from just stepping through the front door. The best i can say is that there was a "feeling" of things not being as we had left it? My father bounded through to the kitchen and found that the window on the back door had been smashed and the door unlocked from the inside. He called the police.

The television, fancy new VCR and stereo were all still there (1986 was good to my family - it was the only year that i remember there being money and my parents bought all new...well, everything). In fact everything on the first floor was in tact. It was when my parents went upstairs, that they found what the thieves were after.

All of my mother's jewelry was gone. Her walk-in closet had been completely ransacked, all of the clothes that had been hung neatly, were all in piles on the floor. On top of the clothes, everything that had been stacked up on the shelves - shoes, quilts, sweaters all on the floor. All of the drawers from her dresser and their contents were strewn about on the bed, on the floor, the furniture. They had found her jewelry box and seemingly picked their way through it and only took what was real, leaving behind whatever costume jewelry she had. Heirlooms, antiques, sentimental pieces were all gone. All of the jewelry my father had given her; all gone. Including her engagement ring. Mom was crushed.

Happy Mother's Day.

As is expected, the next day my parents had an alarm system installed in the house, and since then, my mother has kept all of her new jewelry in a closet "where no one will think to look". However, my mother no longer had her engagement ring and my parents did not have the means to replace it. (This really is not important anymore since they haven't been together since 1996, but whatever).

Aunt Sue was my Great-Grandmother's (my mother's grandmother) youngest and last remaining sibling. She had died earlier that year and it had been left up to her niece, my Great Aunt Mary, to settle her estate. Aunt Sue never had any children, so her valuables were left to Aunt Mary - including her engagement and wedding rings.

Aunt Sue was a wonderful, sweet woman – a little wacky in that old-world Italian way – but a sweet lady whom I enjoyed visiting when I was little. She loved having us kids in the house since she was unable to have her own, and I fondly remember playing in her yard around some flowering fruit tree… memories are strange that way, I guess.

In any event, Aunt Mary gave my mom Aunt Sue's engagement ring as a replacement and I have always, always loved that ring. I admired it when my mother would occasionally wear it, but mostly, I would take it out of her jewelry hiding spot and try it on without disturbing the contents of the hiding spot so mom wouldn’t know I was in there.

I had asked my mother years ago, if she would be opposed to giving me the ring if or when I ever got engaged and she was hesitant. In our family (and I would assume in many cultures), it is not traditional to pass a ring like this to a daughter for her engagement. If it was going to go to anyone, it would be to my older brother to give to his girlfriend, should he ever propose to her. And of course, my always-fair mother, “I don’t have two rings. What would I give to your brother if I gave this one to you?” Right. So, I talked to Brother M. His reaction was basically, “It's not like I’m going to wear it – you can have it if you want”.

TheBoy knew all about this. I’ve been talking about this ring for years. (Not obsessively, mind you.. I realize how this is starting to sound). So he called my mother last Wednesday and asked if he could come over. He asked her for her blessing and asked to use the ring that I wanted. And she very easily gave it to him, (but not before making him promised to make sure I took care of it, because apparently I’m not careful with my things. THANKS, MOM. So not true, by the way).

When he opened the little black velvet box for me on Thursday night, I was shocked to see it. I was shocked by the whole ordeal, but seeing that ring was such a nice surprise.

I have my Great-Great Aunt Sue’s 1930-something platinum engagement ring. I feel so lucky.

However, after telling other people about it, I’ve gotten mixed reactions. I had a short e-mail conversation with -R- about this when she mentioned in a post that her engagement ring was from her side of the family and she said that her family saw nothing wrong with that. People I know have either thought that the sentimentality of it all was so much more important to me than it would ever be to my brother’s girlfriend if he were to have gotten it and that it was wonderful that i was given this ring. Yet others have expressed surprise (sometimes confusion) that a girl would have gotten a ring from her own family.

What do you think? Would you have wanted a ring from your own family? His family? Preferred a new one that was all yours? Does it matter to you at all? Really, I’m curious (*and really will not be offended! I’ve heard it all this week! Promise!)



  • That is such a beautiful, wonderful story...except for the being robbed part, of course.

    I think it's wonderful that you got the ring, because I agree: it means so much more to you than it would to your brother's girlfriend. For me personally, it would mean a lot more to wear a ring from my side of the family that had sentimental value, rather than one from my husband's side.

    I am over the moon happy for you, Claire.

    By Blogger Cassie, at 2/11/2009 1:49 PM  

  • Personally, I think it's a beautiful story (except for... uh... the whole "B&E" thing), a lovely ring, and I'm just fucking thrilled all over for you.

    By Anonymous TwoBusy, at 2/11/2009 2:11 PM  

  • Well, you know what I think. I'm surprised you've gotten the reaction you have because no one has ever questioned me when I say my engagement ring used to belong to my grandmother. Do you think it's an Italian thing?

    I love the story behind your ring. Congrats again!

    By Anonymous -R-, at 2/11/2009 3:58 PM  

  • I love that you got the ring and not your brother's future fiance. But also, I'd be all "wtf took you so long to propose if you weren't saving for a ring all this time?!" Haha ;)

    By Blogger Jess, at 2/11/2009 5:02 PM  

  • I think it's a beautiful story. I have an interesting situation, in that my grandmother has told me that she's leaving me her engagement ring. While I love her, and I am honored that she's planning this, I also don't know if she's anticipating that my boyfriend will ask her for her ring in order to propose to me... which is decidedly NOT the plan. I have a feeling that she will be hurt either way, so I don't know what to do!

    But in other news, CONGRATULATIONS! Your ring is lovely, and don't listen to the naysayers; whatever works for you is A-OK.

    By Anonymous abbersnail, at 2/11/2009 5:42 PM  

  • I'm so happy for you. It's BEAUTIFUL.

    As for the question, I don't get why people would wonder about it, because it seems like a matrilineal thing, rather than a dude thing. I personally think your grandmother would rather YOU wear it than someone she had no connection to. But maybe that's just me?

    By Anonymous jonniker, at 2/11/2009 10:59 PM  

  • Cassie - Yeah, the being robbed thing kind of sucked, i agree. I think it does mean more coming from my family - people i knew. But not everyone gets that i'm finding..

    TwoBusy - I'm pretty fucking thrilled myself.

    -R- It may very well be an italian thing. The person who was most confused, on the other hand, is Indian which is just a whole other ball of wax.

    Jess - Totally. I have no idea. I don't know if he'd planned this all along? I have no idea. I should really ask. Nicely, though...

    Abbersnail - Well, uh oh. That could get tricky. I wouldn't want to piss off grandma like that if i could help it, but eeech.. i would try to send a third party in to ask her what her intentions are there.. i certainly wouldn't want to have that conversation myself.

    Jonniker - Yeah, i have no idea. I would think so too. But there's that idea that the dude is supposed to somehow "provide" the ring. And if he's not buying it, then someone in his family should have purchased it so that the expense and the gesture can come from him. That's the problem.
    But whatever, naysayers. It's mine now.

    By Blogger claire, at 2/12/2009 9:45 AM  

  • I saw this post in -R-'s shared items in Google reader. Congratulations!

    I had no idea that whether the ring came from the husband's or wife's family was even an issue. I think that must be an old-world school of thought!

    By Blogger Operation Pink Herring, at 2/13/2009 10:25 AM  

  • Operation Pink Herring - Hi! Thanks for coming over.
    Yeah, i have no idea either, but you very well may be right. I'm sure there's a weird italian thing going on there. There usually is. :)

    By Blogger claire, at 2/13/2009 3:00 PM  

  • I deny that I got at all teary-eyed over this story, especially the part where your boyfriend asked your mom for her blessing.

    I've never thought about the engagement ring issue at all, but I think whatever is most meaningful to the couple shouldn't be questioned by anyone else. And as between the couple, the woman's wishes should count slightly more, since she's the one who's going to be wearing it.

    By Anonymous flurrious, at 2/14/2009 11:03 AM  

  • (Also clicking over from -R-'s shared posts)

    Firstly: Congratulations!

    Seceondly: Tradition schmradition. I think that if you love the ring and it means something to you, who cares whose side of the family wore it first. I'm sure your bro's gf is lovely, but I'm also sure you will love this ring more than she ever could (see: trying on said ring during childhood)

    I just love that you are happy and that you have such a fantastic story behind your ring.


    By Anonymous heidikins, at 2/17/2009 12:44 PM  

  • It's hard to answer this one, and I really think it depends on the person. I've heard of mother's handing down ancestors (including their own) to their children...so 'inheriting' a relatives engagement ring does not come as a shock to me. However I have not heard of a mother giving their son the ring to give to some random girl...as the sentimentality of the ring would be lost on the girl.

    I personally had always wanted my own engagement ring if and when the time ever comes. (Like that's happening any time soon.) To me it symbolized the start of MY new life with the man I was building this life with. It would reflect my own style.

    However I was taken aback many years ago, when I had asked my mother (as I am her only daughter, only child) for my grandmother's engagement ring to wear on my right hand, when I was in my 20's and she had said 'no.' In all fairness, I don't think she realized how it hurt me for her to refuse to...as I had never known my grandmother and this was a connection I had to her as I was named after my grandmother.

    Now that I am older, and know that my grandmother watches over me...I ponder if I'd want my own engagement ring, or to have hers on my left hand if and when the time came. And honestly, I do not know. In a way, I still want my own ring, to reflect my own style,future and person...but I'm a sentimental sap. So if the time ever comes...we'll see which way he goes. :o)

    By Blogger Orelinde_03, at 2/27/2009 11:58 AM  

  • Congratulations! And the ring is GORGEOUS. I was almost proposed to with my great grandmother's ring, but the b.f. wanted to get me something all from him. No matter, because my grandmother's ring really isn't much of a diamond ring - platinum filigree with just a chip in the center, it looks just as good on my right hand. :)

    By Blogger Christine, at 3/04/2009 9:51 AM  

  • coughcoughPOSTAGAINcoughcough

    By Anonymous TwoBusy, at 3/28/2009 6:32 PM  

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