The burglar made off with every piece of jewelry I owned. Everything
My wedding ring was stolen during my seventh year of marriage. There had been a string of muggings in my neighborhood, so to play it safe, I stopped wearing my ring in public.
But when I came home one afternoon, I saw the kitchen window had been pried open. A cat burglar had gained entry into my apartment by climbing up the fire escape and through the window that faced the rear of the building.
Nothing appeared to have been disturbed, until I went into the bedroom. There, I discovered my jewelry box had been plundered. The burglar made off with every piece of jewelry I owned. Everything.
My collection of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets were all gone, including the wedding ring I left at home for “safekeeping.” He also carried off the ring my parents had given me for my bas mitzvah.
That ring had been my first piece of gold jewelry, and it marked my transition from childhood to adulthood. It symbolized my parents’ love for me, and wearing it made me feel beautiful. The aquamarine gem, my birthstone, was emerald shaped and set in 14-karat gold filigree. The stone sparkled like sunlight dancing across the surface of the Caribbean Sea. I never grew tired of wearing that ring; it always brought me joy.
After the burglary, we replaced my wedding band. I chose one that was wider and more ornate than my original ring, which according to Jewish tradition has to be a plain gold band.
But my bas mitzvah ring was irreplaceable. Its sentimental value was priceless, and no other ring could ever evoke the pride I felt when looking at my bejeweled finger adorned by my parents’ bas mitzvah gift.
Both my parents are gone now. My mother died a few months ago, and the ache in my heart is still raw. I haven’t gone through her belongings yet. There’s no rush, and it’s bound to be a stinging reminder she is no longer alive.
Today, when I opened my jewelry box, I spotted something unfamiliar — a velvet satchel. When I picked it up, I remembered I’d put it there for safe keeping after my mother was admitted to the hospital. The pouch contained my mother’s wedding ring. Her ring wasn’t ornate, but simple and refined, just as she had been all her life.
Holding my mother’s ring, I recalled her Friday night struggles to remove it before washing her hands for hamotzi. During this last year, my mother had become frailer, so I’d bring a basin and washing cup to her place at the table. On those evenings, she would turn her rings around and around; still, she was unable to remove them.
She’d shrug her shoulders, look up and smile at me in surrender. I noticed she’d gotten into the habit of putting her ring on the wrong finger, and her knuckle was a hump too big for the ring to glide over. That was my cue to put a dab of dish soap on her finger — it would loosen the ring. Eventually, we’d coax it over her joint and after washing, I made sure she put the ring back on her ring finger.
The ring in this velvet pouch belonged to my mother, and on some level, it felt as if the ring was my mother. As I held it in my hand, my sorrow grew heavier. To ease the burden of my grief, I tucked the ring back into my jewelry box.
Many years have passed since my bas mitzvah ring was stolen, but now I’ve found a replacement for it. When I feel ready, I will take my mother’s ring to the jeweler and have it sized to fit me. When I look at my finger I’ll be reminded of my mother, the woman who made her 12-year-old daughter feel like she had the most exquisite ring in the world.
Now, she does again.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 764)
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