Sunday, January 20, 2013

THE 70'S

When I hear the phrase "The 70's" I think of a wooden door thunking close onto a swinging bell, of bare feet walking onto an air conditioned cooled concrete floor, the wall air conditioner whose hum I can hear over the swoosh and squeak of the ceiling fan, the smell of mothballs mixed with tobacco, earth, and chocolates, the ice chilled glass bottle of a Dr. Pepper after the metallic glass clink when the top's popped off, of momentary sanctuary from the heat, the grime, and the toil.  This is "The 70's" to me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Ring

My mother suffers from rheumatoid and osteo-arthritis.  Her hands are gnarled and twisted to the point that it’s hard for her to perform some daily tasks that we take for granted.  A couple of years ago she made the decision to give each of her daughters and granddaughters her rings and her necklaces that had clasps (which she could no longer work).
She gave me the wedding ring from her second marriage.  My step-father was a pleasant man in the beginning but then he changed and our situation changed.  By the end of his life I hated him and was glad to see him go (being perfectly honest here).  So when she first gave me the ring – two linked hearts with a tiny diamond in the middle – I looked at it in a negative way.  It made me think of “him”.  I couldn’t wear it anyway because it was sized so large to fit over my mother’s enlarged arthritic knuckles.  I put it away for a while not wanting to look at it. 
Earlier this year I decided to have an antique ring resized for my husband as a surprise for his birthday.  I thought I’d resize Mom’s ring at the same time on a whim.  When it came back it was not only resized but cleaned as well.  It sparkled beautifully and looked nice on my hand.  It reminded me of Mom’s hands – when she cooked for us, cleaned the house, folded the laundry, tended our wounds, worked in her flowers.  The ring no longer reminded me of my step-father or their marriage anymore.
I brought the ring with me on this year’s Christmas trip.  I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to see her due to her recent health problems and my recent cold (which she couldn’t be exposed to).  Then I got the call on the day I was to visit her that she’d been rushed to the ER. The drive from my husband’s family to the hospital was an hour.  While getting everyone ready and during the drive, my mind worried over the situation with my mother.  I feared that I may lose her.  She’s 74 years old and the reality hit that she wouldn’t be with me forever.
 I looked at the ring, turning it nervously around my finger.  The two hearts joined together began to take on a new meaning for me.  Instead of it representing the joining of Mom and my step-father, it reminded me of the link I will always have with my mother whether she is with me or not.  My mother wasn’t perfect when we were growing up but she loved us.  She will always love us.
Thankfully when I arrived at the ER she was fine and not long after they released her.  While I was in her little ER cubicle, talking to her (and calming my own anxieties), she noticed the ring.  She smiled a little smile, happy to see me wearing it, and said, “I see you’re wearing my ring.”  I felt warmed and comforted somehow that she approved.  As I was leaving she gave me a strong hug that said a thousand unspoken things.  And my heart was healed just a little more.