With this ring…or was it that one?



Or that ringSeveral months ago I shared my engagement story.

Engaging (or, How About It?)
Below are the rings my husband thought had sunk to the bottom of the river.

With this Ring

On top is the engagement ring. I flashed it everywhere in the nine months before we married.
I made certain everyone in flashing distance knew I was engaged by using my left hand almost exclusively.
I’m a rightie, by the way.

The ring on the bottom is the one my husband slipped (ok, let’s be honest. He jammed it) on my fourth finger, left hand, during our wedding ceremony.

I wore them through pregnancy and child-rearing, baths and showers, cooking and baking and dish washing and puppy house-breaking.

Maybe that was the problem.

About 22 years into marriage, which would make it almost 10 years back, I was fusting with my rings in church. Fusting is the act of twisting the rings on my finger, pushing them up a bit, down a bit and then back around.

Something felt different.

I looked at the engagement ring where the biggest diamond was supposed to be and saw only prongs. Can I confess that I probably didn’t pay as much attention to the rest of the service as I should have?

After the final benediction I alerted my family, who all dropped to their knees to examine the carpet. A beautiful thing happened then. Everyone is church started looking for my diamond.

But no one found it.

I put the engagement ring in my jewelry box and just wore my wedding band. That’s the one on the bottom with the three smaller diamonds. And guess what happened? Yep. Those diamonds jumped ship and the naked wedding band cowered in my jewelry box with the naked engagement ring.

My husband graciously did not remind me that I should have had both cleaned and checked periodically.

For a month or so my left hand remained unadorned and I had to fend off a ridiculous number of men who thought I was unattached and available.
I’m kidding.

But I didn’t like the no-ring/not married look at all.

My mother, not long before my dad died, had bought new wedding rings to wear since the ones Daddy gave her were worn thin to the point of fragility. She’d willed those rings to my eldest son, so he could use the diamond when he was ready to get married. He wasn’t ready to get married when the Great Diamond Fiasco occurred and told me I could wear the rings.

When he was ready to get married, my son could afford to buy a diamond for his wife.
So I continued to wear my mom’s rings.

I loved my mom. She was a great mom, loving and selfless and funny. Every time I looked at my fourth finger, left hand, I thought of her.

See the problem? When you look at your wedding rings, you should be thinking, “I love my husband,” not “I love my mom.”

But there were always other things to spend money on and Mom’s rings continued on my hand while mine sat in my jewelry box.

On our yearly Chicago Christmas junket last month, my husband pulled a small plastic bag out of his pocket.

Inside were my rings.

The ones he had given me almost 32 years ago. He’d snuck them out of my jewelry box, brought them to a jeweler, and had new stones set.

So now my mom’s rings can go to my son to do with as he wishes.

And I can look at my fourth finger, left hand, and be reminded that That’s right! I do love my husband!

The Non-Elastic Clause

Non Elastic Clause

Here’s how it works:
We are, at birth, issued heart sections to fill with emotions.
Most sections are fairly elastic—the Puppy Love area, for example.
At age 13 it expands so far that it actually moves beyond the heart wall and into areas such as the voice box, (rendering it speechless when speaking to the Object of Affection), and the stomach, (startling dormant butterflies into violent action at the sight of the same Object of Affection).

But the Object of Affection eventually loses his/her luster and the Puppy Love section shrinks down to almost nothing till inflated by True Love.
The same is true of the ‘Need for Speed’ area predominant in teen boys-—it oozes past the heart and squeezes shut Common Sense and Self-Preservation areas of the brain, but by daddyhood has assumed manageable proportions.

Unfortunately the elastic clause isn’t binding on the Emotions for Parents Area (EPA).
A certain amount of heart space is delegated and we’re required to keep it filled at all times.
It has a non-elastic clause.
When we were infants, every nook and cranny of the Emotions for Parent Area is filled with Need. A bit older and we don’t Need parents for minute-to-minute survival, so some Need is replaced with Love.
Love ebbs and flows as Resentment, Desire for Approval, and Utter Humiliation jockey for position in the space allotted.
But the EPA retains its original volume requirements.

For many sad reasons, Hate, Blame, or Regret sometimes wriggle in. These make it difficult for Love to survive in the Emotions for Parents Area. (A sobering note: Whatever fills this area will  seep into and affect  Friend Love, True Love, Offspring Love, etc.)

In the normal course of events, by adulthood most of us find our EPA filled almost completely with Love, Respect and Concern, and as our parents age, Compassion and Anxiety find space.
What happens to those of us who had to say goodbye to parents? We think “If only I could have had them for a few more years, I’d be able to handle the loss better.”

Not true. The Emotions for Parents Area of your heart has a non-elastic clause, remember?
Parents could live to be 100 and there would be exactly the same amount of emotion to be lavished on them.
Those who have lost parents have a big heart part filled at first with Ache.
Then Affectionate Memories begin to replace some (but never all) of Ache, allowing room for Gratitude and Honor, all of which are highlighted by Love.
And the non-elastic clause means you will carry those emotions in full measure all of your days.