WINNERS! WINNERS! The lucky winners from last week’s blog with Neicey Roy are: Julie S. and Sabrina Robert! Email me at: christie (at) christie-craig.com and I will arrange to get you your prizes when Neicey’s book is available. Congrats!
Moving teaches you something. The value of letting go of things—material things. The freedom of cleaning out the clutter of your life is awesome. And it’s so true. Memories are much more important than things, but this most recent move has taught me something else, too . . . that there are some things worth keeping. Things that perhaps we didn’t value at one time. Things that if lost, we’d regret. Things that were maybe lost and are now found.
I think I was nineteen, already married, and a mother. Still, I wasn’t old enough to truly appreciate or understand the true significance of what was being placed in my hand. It was a piece of history. My history. The ring of gold, a wedding band, felt small and cold in my palm.
“It belonged to MeeMaw, your great-grandmother,” my grandmother told me. “It’s special. Make sure you take care of it.”
She’d given each of her granddaughters a piece of jewelry as a keepsake of her own mother. A woman who had died when I was four. I had only a few memories of MeeMaw. As crazy as it seemed, one of them was of that ring on her frail, knotted finger. I held her hand as we walked across a parking lot. I’d been given the job of reminding Meemaw to step up when we came to a curb. I recalled how loose the ring fit, how it slid up and down on her finger, threatening to fall off. I think she died shortly after that.
After my own grandmother left me with this piece of jewelry and few memories, I took the ring and put it into a jewelry box for safekeeping, and did what most young people do, I forgot about it. It would be four years later before I even saw the ring again. My marriage on the rocks, trying to figure out how to be a single mom, and my own wedding ring removed from my hand, I was hurriedly packing a few things for my daughter and myself to get out of town, away from an abusive relationship. I happened upon that ring and I almost didn’t take it. Then I recalled my grandmother’s words: “Take care of it.” So I went back, picked it up, and dropped it inside my purse. I didn’t wrap it in tissue, or find a special place for it, the way it deserved, but I did take it.
The next few years of my life in sunny southern California were crazy. But a good crazy this time. I met Mr. Craig, married him, and for the first time, I appreciated what a real marriage was supposed to be. A couple of years later, we packed our bags, and headed to Texas. As I was cleaning out an old dresser drawer, I found the ring again. This time, I appreciated it a little bit more. My own grandmother was aging, and as I held it in my palm, I thought about telling my grandmother thank you for bestowing me with this ring. I recall taking the ring to my husband and asking him to put it somewhere important.
We were probably in Houston a year. It was 1987. My grandparents were coming for a visit. I wanted to show my grandmother the ring, and tell her thank you, but it occurred to me that I didn’t have a clue where it was. I went to my husband and asked where he’d tucked it away. He had no memory of the ring. The whole time my grandparents were there, I was shrouded by a sense of guilt. I’d lost MeeMaw’s ring. Lost a part of the family’s history.
That guilt never completely went away. Before my grandfather died, I’d gotten really close to my grandmother, and as crazy as it sounds, we became friends. She lived in Florida, and we visited each other at least three times a year. She never asked about that ring, and down deep, I felt she knew I’d lost it. When she died, I remember standing at her casket and silently apologizing and feeling as if I’d let her down.
Fast forward to 2014. Hubby and I had just undergone a monumental feat. We’d moved from a home we’d lived in for 20 years. Amazing the things you find. A framed piece of cross-stitch that I made when I was pregnant with my son. A doll that had belonged to my daughter when we hurriedly packed our things and moved to California. Old snapshots of my grandmother in her bathing suit on one of my many trips to see her in Florida.
Then, last week, my hubby walked into the room to show me his mother’s high school ring that’d he’d found. When he went to put it away, I felt my heart tug about another ring. I wondered if grandma was looking down on me, upset that I’d lost it. Oddly enough, she stayed on my mind for the next few days.
Then, this morning, he walked into my study to show me another old picture he’d found of his grandmother. I sighed and told him that part of me was still mad at him for losing my great-grandmother’s ring.
“What ring?” he asked. Leave it to a man to forget.
“A ring,” I told him. “A wedding band.”
His eyes lit up. “I was wondering who it belonged to.” I followed him into our now guest bedroom where he’d stored some keepsakes. In an old wooden box was a simple gold band. I picked it up and recalled holding my great-grandmother’s frail hand, recalled holding my own grandmother’s hand when it turned just as frail. My eyes grew misty as almost thirty years of guilt eased off my shoulders.
Yup, it’s good to clear out the clutter of our lives, but sometimes when the clutter is gone, you suddenly find something worth keeping. Something that someday, I will place in my granddaughter’s hand and say, “It’s special. Make sure you take care of it.”