What’s in a ring?
One day last week, I watched a man and a woman sitting together in a room. Their eyes sparkled at the sight of the other, as if they were seeing each other for the first time. He took her hand and asked her “How are you?” She smiled and quickly answered “Everything is better when you are around.”
The conversation was minimal, but enough. From time to time, he would pick up her hand and kiss it. She would casually sing to him “Oh, do it again…I may say, no, no, no, but…do it again.” It was a language all their own.
Seventy years ago on November 7, 1942 in Philadelphia, these two souls promised themselves to each other in marriage. They had a traditional wedding and gave each other simple, yet meaningful rings. It was a day that both have looked back on and spoken of fondly. It was a day that would begin their story of a lifetime: Helen and Bill. Shortly after their wedding, he was called to service in World War II. He went to Germany and was one of the lucky ones to make it home to American soil. They had two children and lived a modest, but happy life.
He went to college through night school and worked during the day for the same company for 43 years. Their children got married and had children of their own. No doubt each member of their family has a story to tell. This one is part of mine.
Helen and Bill are my grand-parents. I have had the great privilege of sharing my life with them. It seems like I have been connected to them forever: first as their Godchild, weekend visits, long walks on the beach, wearing her wedding gown at my own, and simply sharing the joys and sorrows of everyday life. They have taught me so much through the love they have for each other and for our family. My life is full of some of the most beautiful memories because of them.
For the last few years, my husband, son, and I have enjoyed their presence as our neighbors and as extra hands when they needed us. We have shared wonderful family moments, tears, silliness, and stories. It is time that I could never give a value to. It has been an indescribable blessing.
Just a month ago, Bill and Helen were separated due to some health issues. It has been an incredibly challenging and difficult month as we watch them yearn for each other and the independence they once knew. 70 years is a long time of love and friendship; it is indeed something to honor and to treasure.
Last week, the unspeakable happened and someone intentionally removed the wedding ring from my grandfather’s hand. It has not been seen since. He shared his trouble with me as I wheeled him to see Helen to prematurely offer her a special anniversary ring. His face showed the heartbreak. He rubbed his ring finger in sadness realizing that this simple symbol stood for so much.
There was only one thing to do. Tomorrow, there will be a private ceremony for the two of them and a blessing of their rings. While nothing can bring back the original except the one who has it, there is no way that I couldn’t do something to replace it. It is incomprehensible to me what it is feeling like to him to look down on his finger and to know that this treasure has been taken from him. A ring with 70 years of history; a ring that is 70 years old, survived a war, the death of a child, retirement, moves, sorrows, joys, and their lifetime.
Tomorrow will be a day of joy for them. For all that they have been to me, it is day to honor them, celebrate them, and thank them. We will gather again as family and friends later in the week to do the same, but tomorrow is a moment just for them.
What’s in a ring? In this case, a lifetime of unquestionable love.