In the mid-1950s, Jake, a newly certified millwright, left Alberta for a job in Ontario. Before he left, on his twenty-first birthday, his mother’s way of wishing him luck was to gift him with an onyx signet ring. In Ontario, he not only got lucky landing the job but he found the love of his life, Lucy. A short time later, he blurted out, “I think we should go together Lucy, uh, you know… go steady?”
She gushed over the idea and Jake held his ring out to her. “This is way too big for you, but I want you to have it.”
Astonished she said, “I’ve loved seeing it on you. Is there a story to it?”
“You could say that. My mom gave it to me.”
“I’ll wear it on a chain around my neck,” Lucy promised.
They could hardly pull out of the hug and kiss which followed. Eventually the token of their intense bond was properly sized and it served as an engagement ring. Under a full moon one night, Lucy looked through a mail-order catalogue Jake brought on their date. He had her turn to the jewelry page.
“Pick something out, Lucy.” Pondering the wedding and engagement rings, she left a faint lipstick stain on the glossy illustration of her favorite set.
From the zine, Jake tore off the perforated ‘ruler’ strip, pulled the signet ring off her hand and wrapped the strip snugly around her finger for size. With a quickened heartbeat, Lucy’s tear-choked throat teased, “Don’t lose this strip,” and she threw her arms around him.
The following day, Jake couldn’t remember the size and frantically dug through his pockets for the measuring strip. His relief was palpable when he found it on the floor mat of the car. The rings he ordered arrived in time for Lucy’s high school commencement.
“You look smashing, honey!”
She loved the compliment and flared her formal gown over the seat as Jake reached over it and took her signet ring off. The precious moment of slipping the diamond onto her ring finger would be remembered forever. They married in a small chapel. Lucy loved her wedding rings and continued for many years to wear the signet ring on her other hand. When their first child arrived, thinking way ahead of himself, Jake suggested, “What do you think of passing the ring from mom down to our son some day?”
“Oh Jake, it’s a wonderful idea for an heirloom like this. We’ll do it when he’s mature enough to appreciate its significance.” She gazed at the stylized ‘J’ inlaid on the onyx, and her mind wandered far into the future.
Years later, a jeweller removed the ‘J’ and replaced it with an elegant gold ‘A’ for the couple’s son Andrew. He had always admired the ring and was overjoyed to receive it on his sixteenth birthday. It was natural, however, that he never really got use to wearing it so it laid for months in a box in his dresser drawer.
On the day of Andrew’s high school graduation he looked dapper in his rented tux. He deemed the occasion worthy of wearing the classy ring but struggled to get it on; for, he’d gone through a growing spurt and it was extremely tight. During dinner, subconsciously rotating it, he proudly shared its history with friends. But, by dessert time, he justified tugging the uncomfortable thing off… just till I finish eating. For safe-keeping, he wrapped it in his crisp formal handkerchief and planted it deep in his breast pocket.
In the dead of night, he dropped the tux in a heap on the floor and, the next morning bundled it up, tossed it over the handlebars of his bike and headed for the dry cleaners. Sure hope they can get that gravy stain out. Checking it over later, the stain was gone so, to avoid over-due charges, he promptly delivered the clean well-pressed duds to the men’s wear shop.
The rounds of parties which followed were exciting… until the night he remembered the last time he handled the ring. He laid for hours dozing on and off. Before breakfast, he rushed out, without an explanation, and peddled frantically to the cleaners to inquire if they’d found the ring.
With maturity, dreadful guilt and copious courage, he manned up and agonizingly confessed to his parents. His low solemn voice quivered, “I traced my tracks back to the cleaners, but nobody found it.”
Lucy recalled the sweetest moments of her girlhood and wept softly; for, there was a time when her husband’s ring held great hopes and dreams for her. Gaining composure, she spoke frankly. “You know, Andy, I haven’t given dad’s ring much thought lately,” and. with wisdom added, “Objects of affection aren’t necessarily meant to be with us forever. It’s a hard lesson, but the real keepers are each other.” She squeezed him tightly but her sobs told the truth of it. Andy apologized over and over as he wiped her tears with a napkin from the table.
“Your graduation from high school was a very significant rite of passage, Andy. Let’s remember that and not dwell on a lost possession.”
Jake’s dad, with a glint of comic relief in his eyes, jumped in to bail his wife and son out of their obvious doldrums. “She’s right, Andy. That ring was a part of my journey, then it took your mom on the journey with me and recently it sent you on your ups-n’-downs journey. That’s life; perhaps in truth, the keepsake will be a kick-off to someone else’s wholesome journey.” Grabbing at his son’s shoulder, he advised, “Don’t cry over spilt milk… er gravy! The tuxedo had to get cleaned. Think back; the funniest thing was when you stood up to dance! You’re girl ignored the nasty mess at yer crotch and kicked up her heels anyway! Luck like that follows you whether you have a ring on or not!”