From my earliest days of childhood, I can remember being fascinated by my grandmother’s ring. It is a Mother’s Ring, with four gemstones representing the birth months of her four children. I remember learning to which of my dad’s siblings each stone belonged, and I often sat with her to look at the ring and recite the names and stones.
And almost for just as long, I’ve wanted a Mother’s Ring of my own, one that looked as close to hers as possible. I even wanted four stones.
But it’s not about jewelry. It’s about family, and it’s about the example of a woman whom I wanted to follow.
She did not have an easy start to her marriage, nor was it ever a fairy tale, and in the end she cared for my nearly incapacitated grandfather after his multiple strokes and heart attacks. But she was a committed and loving wife and mother. She lived through a lot, and did so with grace and candor and piss and vinegar.
Her four children grew into a large extended family; she now has twenty-one great-grandchildren! I adore our exciting, boisterous family gatherings, filled with aunts and uncles and cousins and, most importantly, love. I wanted that for my own grandchildren as well. She has been the matriarch of our family, bringing us together and giving us advice (sometimes not so subtly) and telling us exactly what she thinks. She is the glue and the reason we are so close, even though we are spread apart geographically.
And as much as I could say this about someone 50+ years my senior, she’s also been a friend. We’ve spent some great times together: weekend overnights when I was in college; shopping; scores of games of Rummy, Rummikub, and Five Crowns (she almost always beats me); our day trip to Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall in 2007. I haven’t seen her as much since I moved out-of-state, but now I’ve had the pleasure of watching my kids (all four of them) get to know and love her as I do.
I have my ring now, and a couple months ago, I had the chance to take a picture of our rings together. It was a simple moment of things coming full circle, even though there’s still so much story yet to be told. I hope I can be the wife, mother, and matriarch that she has been, and every time I look at my right-hand ring finger, I remember that she’s right there with me, telling me what to do and not being shy about it.
I’ll always be her “Little Sh*t,” and she’ll always be my grandma.