when the ringer became the ring

In my debut contemporary romance, The Marriage Ultimatum, there comes a moment when Vlad gives Sabrina an engagement ring. Without revealing any spoilers, I will only say that Sabrina believes she received the ring for all the wrong reasons. Β She doesn’t believe in romantic love but she still feels the symbolic weight of the ring. And she doesn’t want to accept it. She blurts out:

“I couldn’t wear that. … I might lose it.”

Well I did Sabrina one better.

I lost my mother’s wedding ring.

Let me backtrack.

It was mom’s birthday- a big one-and even though she isn’t timid about telling her age, she always lets people guess it because they usually guess she’s about 20 years younger than she is. Really. I’ve been at the doctor with her when the nurse will say, we have the wrong information here because, see here, it says you were born in 19–. And my mom will giggle like a teenager and say the information is correct. But now I’ve gone off on a tangent.

Anyway, family and friends were gathered for the party at our apartment on a beautiful autumn afternoon. Sometime amidst photo taking and general merrymaking but before the cake, mom faintedβ€”or something. As every terrifying possibility flashed before our eyes, we called EMS and headed downtown to the Emergency Department.

Many hours later mom is moved from the ED to the cardiac ward to be admitted. The doctors say she needs a pacemaker. My sister and I huddle in the corridor making plans for the next day. My sister hands me the jewelry mom was wearing that day for safekeeping. Why me you ask? Why didn’t she take it herself? I’ve been asking myself that since November.

A week later, pacemaker in place, Mom is discharged and we all spend Thanksgiving grateful that she is still with us.

Mom has accumulated very few items of jewelry in her life. She’s old school, a coal miner’s daughter who married a truck driver and had seven children. Somehow Dad managed to get her an exquisite engagement ring and a platinum wedding band inset with tiny diamonds. Those rings and the ring we kids got her one Christmas are all she wears.

Mom’s health turns out to be a little more fragile than we realize and she spends more time in the hospital in December. When things settle down a bit she asks for her rings and we give them to her. But the wedding band is missing. I tell mom I must have missed it in my drawer, not too surprising because the beautiful platinum band is thin from years of wear and has the thickness of dental floss.

After that first night at the hospital back in November, I placed the jewelry in the top drawer of my dresser. So that’s where the ring has to be. Except it isn’t. I empty the entire dresser, all six drawers and it isn’t there. I check the purse I was using that night in the hospital and it isn’t there either. Now I’m getting tense and I toss our apartment like a burglar on the hunt for a big score that goes bust. I even open and empty out my vacuum and sift through the dirt and dust of the container. And, yes that’s just as gross as it sounds. Still no ring.

I call the cardiac ICU nurses station. No luck. I think to check whether I lost it in the cab I took home from the hospital that night but it seems for the first time in my adult life I paid for the cab in cash and didn’t get a receipt.

That night the love of my life comes home to see me stretched across our queen bed bemoaning the fact that the ring is really, truly lost and wailing about what kind of daughter loses her mom’s wedding ring. He says, manlike, you should just replace it.

I wake up the next morning and call my sister. She knows a jeweler who can replicate the ring. My sister has, among other roles in life, been a bartender and a animal nurse and there are few people in the five boroughs she doesn’t know. I bring a picture of the ring, taken by the daughter who just got engaged (see Another Countdown) to Donna Distefano, where Metal and Fire meet Love in the Flatiron and she gets to work. The ring she creates is beautiful and accurate as to the details but it’s a much glossier, full bodied version of the ring. She tells me to tell mom that I took her old ring and had the platinum bolstered up and polished. Mom will never know she tells me. Craven soul that I am, I decide to believe her. And Mom believes me. “At least you didn’t lose it,” Mom says.

So how does this story end? Since I write romance you have to know that I wouldn’t even be telling this story if it didn’t have a HEA. If the story ended here, I would have kept the memory of the loss of my mother’s wedding band in some far corner of my psyche, a Rosebud, to be anguished over and confessed on my deathbed.

This week the ring was found. In the lining of a purse that housed it for moments, mere minutes in those weeks while mom was ill. Such an infinitesimal amount of time that I had totally disregarded it in the timeline of ring possession I had painstakingly reconstructed in the days I tried to figure out where the hell the ring had gone. And no it wasn’t in the lining of my purse. But that doesn’t matter now. The ring is found. Thank you St. Anthony.

And that is the story of how the ringer became the wedding ring.


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