My engagement ring is worn out. I felt something sharp and saw its prongs had broken and its band was rubbed to a sliver. I slid it off, grateful the diamond hadn’t escaped. The rings have been my faithful companions through years of smiles and laughter and tears and heartbreak.
At the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Mississippi, I said yes to a skinny young engineer with curly blond hair and long dangly arms. Those inquisitive arms that reach out to explore, touch and investigate his surroundings. The arms that know how to hug, hold and comfort.
My ring and I have been loved and worn to bits. The diamond solitaire has been on my left ring finger every minute since Tom proposed. The wider wedding band is its constant companion.
A beautiful patina evolves from years of being true. I like to think I have a patina too. A tingly warmth comes inside when I look at the worn rings. They’re still here and I am too. We’re bedraggled but we are here. We’ve survived and even flourished in the wear and tear.
If rings could talk, what would they say? They watched my exciting entry to married life. The kisses, the idealism and the bliss. They’ve been with me in painful times, too. When our special little girl fell into danger. That time she swiped a razor across her skin and bloodied her face and neck. She wasn’t even able to say if it hurt. When she turned blue after stuffing her mouth full of bagel and we had to claw it out of her checks so she could breathe. She’d often find a way out of the house to roam around. I’d dash out to find her in a neighbor’s yard. These all happened under my watchful eye, in the middle of my day of cooking, cleaning and making a good life for our family of four.
There’s a lovely patina in old things; a surface appearance that has grown beautiful with age and use.
My rings, all shiny and bright, showed off when love was young. They’re still here for the old memorized relaxed love; their beauty gently displayed after 13,000 days on duty. They’ve been on my hand, scrubbing a million dishes in white puffy suds. They’ve touched piles of stinky laundry and witnessed fresh-smelling clean sheets stretched across the mattress.
They accompany me to the yard to scrounge for any growing weed or plant for a centerpiece. Daffodils popping out in early spring or the shiny green leaves and pink blooms with bright yellow centers from the camellia bush.
Grandmother’s china with bits of the brown design smoothed away by use, show off their own patina. My dad’s suede bag of marbles, a century old. A wooden table rubbed and softened in its most-used spots. Old brass implements, once bright, now display a softer rich matte finish.
Old wrinkly hands that have held generations of new babies. Mouth wrinkles from happy celebrations for mamas and brides. Forehead creases from long stents of sorrow, fear and worry. Knowing God was present and at work but loving people so hard, the scary thoughts wouldn’t leave.
My rings were on my left finger when Dawn stacked little alphabet blocks and tried to mimic sounds vocalized by our therapist, who helped people with autism. Dawn attempted a wooden puzzle for the first time as we sat on the cold floor of that old tall narrow white Victorian house in Wilmington.
The rings were there when I read jokes to my tall handsome eight-year-old boy and realized how delightful, silly and fun eight-year-old boys are. The heartening sound of laughter from his room when friends joined him after school brought a smile.
We took a trip once to the Biltmore estate, when Dawn pulled down the display ropes and shuffled into forbidden territory.
Another time I baked a cake for Ben’s class and named it the Grand Canyon cake when it crashed in the middle and I didn’t have time to bake a new one.
I often set the table with the Red Plate that said You Are Special Today, to celebrate good grades, birthdays and holidays.
When baby John brought us to raucous laughter while he lay on his tummy, and moved his head quickly to watch Ben’s remote control car streak across the carpet. When our sweet back-door neighbor, Eloise, came over with her enormous dinosaur video camera and captured John’s first scoots and babbles. I loved her beautiful laugh of delight.
When I cleaned up bathroom accidents that seemed to never stop. When I stayed awake all night long with our daughter who didn’t know how to sleep. Those rings have been with me through it all.
You can trust old established things; their aura gives off character. They have staying power. There’s an ambience about old people, old dishes and old rings that makes you feel comfortable. You can sit with them. They are not in a hurry and they’ll listen to your story. They’ve learned their place in history and don’t need to stand out. They want the young ones to know that they will find their unique place; that in God’s hand is the safest space to be. Worries become shadows and stresses are futile.
We have no reason to despair. Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying, our inner humanity is breathing in new life every day. You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here. So we do not set our sights on the things we can see with our eyes. All of that is fleeting; it will eventually fade away. Instead we focus on the things we cannot see, which live on and on.2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Voice)