The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Tainted Ring


My father was an alcoholic who beat my mother. I don't know how bad it was for two reasons: 1) she left him when I was about one year old, and 2) she doesn't like to talk about the unpleasant aspects of her past.

The Post

Years ago, and I can't remember exactly how it came up, but my mother showed me the engagement ring my father had given to her. It's not obstentatious. My father never had much money. But it's a nice diamond solitaire (1/3rd of a carat) set into a simple white gold band. My mother showed it to me because she said that she'd planned on giving it to me someday. She didn't exactly say, "Here, take it," but I think that if I had said, "Here, give it to me," she would have.

But I didn't say that. The ring made me feel a little odd. It seemed to be a symbol of bad times and bad things. Not something I would want to wear on my hand nor something I would like to place on someone else's.

I could try to see it as a symbol of the love they felt for each other once, the love that made me. Only, I wasn't made out of love. Around Christmas in 1974, she just gave him what he wanted because it was so much easier than arguing the point with him. She's sure of when she conceived me because she hadn't had sex with him for months leading up to that Christmastime favor, and she wouldn't have sex with him again for months to come...or maybe forever as far as I know. So I could never look at the ring and think, "I was made out of love."

But I guess I could look at it as a symbol of a love that once existed between my parents. She did love him at one point, and I assume that he loved her in his own fucked up way. So at best, the ring could be a cautionary tale. I could look down at it on my finger and think. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," or maybe just, "Shit happens."

Even though my mother and I have not talked about the ring for a few years, it's come into my mind again because she talked to the Bread Winner this past weekend about having it reset for me. And I'm not sure what to make of it. Why has she held onto it for all these 29 years? Why wasn't it hocked ages ago when we were going through some lean times? And mostly, is it important to her that I have it? What does giving it to me mean to her?

I thought my mother's desire was an odd, unusual one until, as the Bread Winner and I were talking about my mother's ring, she revealed that her older sister's engagement ring is none other than her mother's engagement ring reset. My in-laws marital story isn't quite as bad (in my opinion), but it's hardly one to shout out as an example. Her father cheated on her mother--pretty regularly from what I can tell--and they split when the Bread Winner was three (and her older sister was six). Add into the mix some other unsavory actions on her father's part, and the fact that her older sister can't stand him, and I wonder what she thinks seeing that ring on her finger.

A diamond is forever. That seems to be the consensous. Only, what kind of forever?


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