This is Day 21 of a 21-day series. More scoop on the who/what/why, here. I grew up to the drone of an endless series of angel/devil discussions, my paternal grandfather lecturing me on the value of this item or that, supporting his claims with the odd magazine or newspaper or even catalogue clipping on how much this rare book or that Indian artifact or those other old advertising mementos were now worth, while his wife, my sweet, quiet Gram, hissed into my ear, sotto voce, "Sell it!"
He was a teller of stories, an acquirer of things and experiences, a desirer of fame and glory; she was a lover, of people, especially babies, and of love itself. Not that Les Weinrott didn't love; he did. He loved his father, his son, his friends. He loved us, his grandchildren, robustly and effusively and wide-openly. He loved his adoptive city, Chicago, and his country, the United States of America, in the way that probably only first-generation countrymen can, especially those who spring from centuries of persecution and diaspora.
But he also loved things: pretty things, rich things, delightful things, sentimental things. He loved ideas, too, but he anchored himself with things, as if those things proved, for a time, anyway, until they didn't, his value. This breaks my heart, because of all the things he and Gram gave me, the thing I value most of all is what I think all of us do, the way they made me feel, smart, important, delightful and most of all, loved. When things were difficult between me and my mother, or me and my father, or me and any stupid boy who was too dumb to see how smart, important, delightful and lovable I was, it was the love of my grandparents that steered me through the rocks back to safety. And it was especially the love of my grandmother, whose love was absolutely unconditional, for which I am grateful. I have learned many, many great lessons from many, many great teachers, but without that base of unconditional love, I doubt very much whether I'd have been able to stay alive and buoyant enough to weave together anything really meaningful and useful out of them. Which, you know, I'm just getting started doing now.
* * *
This is a ring that was Gram's. It is what they call a "cocktail ring", designed to be dazzling, and to be worn on a non-usual ring finger, in this case, the pinky (although I wore it on my ring finger, as my pinkies are a bit scrawny).
The 'tater has been dealing with a vast quantity of personal stuff, so she has not had a chance yet to photograph the ring for this series. It is gold, 14 or 18K, I think, although she can fill you in, set with baguette stones of a reddish-pink hue, and some diamonds. The center stone is a star sapphire, and was apparently a replacement for a diamond they inexplicably had taken out. I say "inexplicably" because they could not come up with a satisfactory explanation for me, someone who never, ever got the appeal of star sapphires, especially as compared to diamonds, but oh, well. Perhaps it matches more this way; perhaps it is more dazzling, in the cocktail-ring tradition.
It almost matched the hideous cap-and-gown combo I graduated from high school in. (Vile, vile school colors.) I wore it because it was the first Really Valuable Thing my grandparents had given it to me, and thus that I owned. It made me feel rich, and it made me feel like things were possible, which is how one should feel upon graduating from high school.
There is a downside to having valuable things, though, and that is that they can be taken from you. Perhaps I made the right call, leaving this valuable ring with someone back home while I went off to school, considering that the ring was awfully portable and I had the misfortune of sharing a dorm with a soon-to-be-notorious kleptomaniac. But in my absence, the caretaker of the ring saw fit to wear it as she pleased, and in doing so, lost one of the baguettes, which she flatly refused to replace, saying, if memory serves, that this is the condition in which she received it. So, in other words, I employed a liar to protect my "valuable" possession from a kleptomaniac. Brilliant.
Neither the kleptomaniac nor the liar ever came clean. I lost track of the klepto, who was never a really close friend, but I gather she outgrew or outran her kleptomania enough to live a reasonably happy and settled life. The liar, sadly, just went on to tell bigger and more damaging lies, both to herself and to those around her, about herself and about me and finally, untenably, about someone I love. There are things up with which I will not put, and trashing the people I truly love is one of them.
Thus, the liar and I parted ways, and violently. I steadfastly maintain that there is, to quote my ex, The Youngster, "always room for sorry." However, "sorry" must truly be so, and openly so, with attendant and appropriate reparations, penance and submission, and I ain't holding my breath where the liar is concerned. There is just too, too much at stake for the liar to come around, I fear. Thus, I have understanding, and even some compassion, but no more room for the liar.
It is a beautiful ring, and I would love for someone else slip it on her own finger and start a new chapter in the ring's life. I would like for the ring to carry forth more stories, and more learning, and more sparkle, and more joy. If this is not to be, then the 'tater and I will pull out all of the stones, sell it for scrap, and someone else would truly change the life of this ring.
I am a believer in redemption, though, and our ability to change. I am a believer in building on the knowledge and experience we have, and of fusing those lessons and pain and experiences into something freshly wonderful, but rich with history.
Are you a part of this ring's story? Email the 'tater: miz.tater AT gmail DOT com.