(From left: Sapphire/diamond pendant from Ashley, Original ring, Carnelian heart from Daddy, Daddy’s wedding band, Gold chain from Ashley)
My Dad was a very large-framed and tall man of Swedish ancestry. He had the most beautiful, expressive hands that I have ever seen. I inherited my large frame from my Dad, and my hands resemble his proportionately, though not in beauty. Daddy’s left hand was adorned with the one piece of jewelry he always wore – a simple gold band – his wedding ring. The beauty and simplicity of that ring only served to make his hands more beautiful, and I had long desired to have a real piece of jewelry, a ring of my own to wear, and perhaps make my own hands more beautiful..
I did not have nor desire a lot of jewelry, but I did want to have a ring. The only problem was that it was extremely difficult to find any feminine rings that would fit me. Having rings re-sized or made-to-order were things that I knew were expensive, and I never would have dreamed of asking for something like that. For a number of years, as I said, Daddy commuted by train to NYC for his job. Also, as he was a VP of one of the European divisions of his company, it was necessary for him to “commute” to Italy about twice a month. He was away from home a lot during those years, and it was often hard on all of us, and particularly for him. On several of the trips to Italy, my Mom was able to accompany him, and they did some extensive traveling and sight/site-seeing on those occasions. One of the first times she went with him they spent several days in Firenze (Florence) and did some shopping for gifts and souvenirs to take home to us. My Mom spotted a ring in the window of a jewelry store, and on seeing it, my Dad decided that would be a perfect ring for me. They had one in stock that fit him, so he knew it would therefore fit me. It was beautiful! Eighteen-karat yellow gold, with an enameled checkerboard design in dark blue layered on it. I was over the moon about it, and from the day they brought it home to me, it was almost never off my hand. It signified a great deal to me, and was very special.
One day in my 9th grade gym class, we were working on some gymnastic routines/exercises and the ring interfered with one of the stunts, so I took it off (one of the rare occasions) and laid it on the floor next to the mat. As I hardly ever removed it from my hand, I forgot that I had and it was not until that night at home, when feeling for it on my hand – I had a habit of spinning it around – I realized that I no longer had it on. I panicked. I did not remember taking it off, and had absolutely no idea where it was. The house was scoured, and all the steps that I remembered taking were traced over and over again, all to no avail. Needless to say I was heartbroken. My parents were sad for me as well, and not angry. It was just one of those things, so I gradually pushed it away from the front of my mind, but never completely out of it.
I went without a ring for about a year. Sometime in my Junior year in high school, on one of Daddy’s trips to Italy, he decided to make a stop once again, in Firenze. He found the jeweler where he purchased my ring and stopped in to inquire whether he might have another ring like the one he had bought before. The jeweler said that he did not, but would be glad to make another for him if he could describe it. Daddy gave him a perfect description, and once again using his own ring size as a guide, he asked the jeweler to make it for him. When Daddy brought it home to me, I remember I broke into tears. It was such a kind and loving thing to do, and knowing my remorse at not having looked after the first ring as well as I could have, he was quite certain that, barring a major catastrophe, this one would not be lost.
Catastrophe struck, of course. About a year later, during the winter of my senior year, my mother picked me up from school just as it was out for the day. There was some sort of appointment that we had to keep, and we were in a hurry. In front of the auditorium where I waited for her, there was a broad expanse of lawn bisected by a walkway to the auditorium entrance. While the walkway had been shoveled of most of the snow, there remained a couple of inches under foot, and the lawn was still covered by almost two feet of snow. The weather that day was very cold and dry, so when the car pulled up, I immediately jumped into the front passenger seat. As I reached out to close the door, my ring, loosened by the cold, flew off my finger and disappeared into the snow. My mother saw it happen and marked the spot visually where she thought it had landed, then pulled up the car to park. We both got out and went to the spot where it surely was. It was not. The ring had apparently flown into a black hole, or slipped into another dimension, because despite a lengthy search on our part, and other students who stopped to help, the ring was not recovered Once again, I was heartbroken. This time I did not have to suffer quite as long.
About three months later, and shortly before graduation, I and some other friends decided to make a nostalgia tour of the Jr. High school we had attended, and visit with as many of our teachers as we could find. It was not my favorite school, by a long shot, but there were a couple of teachers that I remembered fondly. One of them was Miss Broderick, our gym teacher. She happened to be in her office when we dropped by, and we were delighted to find that she recognized all of us, and remembered each of our names. While talking with her, I took a look around the room and saw a glass jar sitting near the corner of the desk. It was filled with all sorts of bits and pieces of a variety of things, and I asked her what it was. She said it was her “Lost and Found” jar, and the items were things she had found lying around in the gym or locker rooms that she felt might be of some value, so she kept them in case anyone came looking. Just then, I noticed at the very bottom of the jar some yellow gold glinting in the light and saw that there was also some blue enamel on parts of it. It did not resemble a ring, however, because it was almost completely flattened, but I knew immediately that it was my ring – the original.
My jaw dropped, then I shouted out, “MY RING!, MY RING!!” Miss Broderick saw the look on my face and immediately dumped the items onto her desk, and I retrieved my precious piece of jewelry. I could barely contain myself. I convinced my group to leave right away, because I could hardly wait to get home and show my parents. In its crushed state, it looked in pretty bad shape, but I just knew that it could be repaired. Gold is very durable; however, the blue enamel was pretty much a lost cause. When my Dad saw the ring that evening, he too was delighted, and he took it with him the next day to a local jeweler in hopes of having it reshaped and re-enameled. The jeweler was able to get it back into shape, but he did not have the means to have it re-enameled. After consulting with me, Dad asked him if he could remove what was left of the enamel without damaging the ring any further. The jeweler felt he could, and did just that. The following week, that wonderful gift was back on my finger.
It is still there. During an extended period of illness I was forced to remove it, so for about a year or two in the past 25 or so, the ring was safely tucked away in my jewelry box, awaiting the time when I could wear it again. I have worn it ever since. When my weight fluctuated and it became either too tight or too loose, I put the ring on a gold chain that my husband gave me, and wore it constantly around my neck, until the day came when I could put it back on my hand.
My Daddy died almost 20 years ago. Every day I feel him with me, and I have only to look at my hand, and see that ring – the first one I had ever worn – and my Dad’s handsome, smiling face, and his blue eyes appear before my mind’s eye. I was so blessed to have this amazing man as my father. The material gifts he gave me were all wonderful, and while both the book and the ring serve as beautiful butterfly memories, the gift of his presence, his love, his commitment to and confidence in me – his Fatherhood – are a part of the very fabric of my being, and they are the true treasures, and they will never be lost.
I wish you all enough…