Sometimes a family story can have a ring to it. Sometimes, a family heirloom is a ring.
My mother wore a silver cameo on her right ring finger all the days of my childhood. Not one for ornamentation, my mother’s fidelity to this piece of jewelry stood out. Who was the pale ivory figure against the brownish background in the ring’s signet? Before my mother, who wore it?
Her father, Raymond Ned Fink, kept a container of family treasures, and as a teen, my mother was allowed to choose the ring from it. It came to him through his mother’s side of the family, peopled by his own mother, Mary Leona Parker, and grandmother, May Viola (Putman) Parker. Who previously had worn the ring is not clear. My mother wore it always, and the meaning for her came from her father’s love and trust that she could have the heirloom.
Half a lifetime later, my mother took off the ring. Tiny hairline cracks had formed in the band. She worried that to continue to wear it would damage it.
Then came the day she gave it to me. This ring connects me to a woman farther up the tree, without whom perhaps I wouldn’t be here today.
Do I repair the ring? Do I ask a jeweler to undertake the task of making it strong and durable again? Or do I keep it safe, the cracks a testament to the hardworking women — my mother the most recent — who wore it? I’m undecided. It’s a precious gift even to have it.