I remember the brooch my grandmother gave me when I was about twelve, before she died. It had been given to her by her husband on their wedding day and obviously meant a great deal to her. It was of filigreed silver, about an inch and a half long and tapered to a point on each end, and maybe an eighth of an inch wide. There were minute vines and leaves and five small diamonds of greater worth than I will ever know. I was too young and she died too soon; so I carried this gift until I foolishly gave it away, along with my heart to a young girl, when I was sixteen. When that summer-love ended, that girl returned the brooch, but not my heart. I learned from that experience.
Three short years later I married, too young, too soon. It was the sixties and I designed a ring for my “natural” bride to display the diamonds plucked from my grandmother’s brooch. The filigree and the antiqued silver were lost, but not the memories. The story was passed on to my first wife.
When she and I passed away from each other and entered other lives, she kept this ring from our life together. She passed this on to our son along with the story that he verified with me. When he too married, he had the ring resized and bestowed it on his wife in turn. She also has been told the story, which has touched four generations now. He and his wife are now expecting their first child and I expect, as well, the story will be delivered to another generation waiting in the wings.
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So much were my early thoughts, early in their disregard for earlier lives and changing times. My son’s wife, his first, had two children, both boys, and eventually she will be faced with a decision upon which son to bestow the ring. Perhaps she will have it dismantled, much as she did her marriage, and provide each child with a piece of her former love, her former life, and four generations of history.
Meanwhile the man who placed the ring upon her finger, my son, had met and wed another bride. If this were a jeweled life, his new bride would have received the ring and carried it forward, perhaps to a fifth generation, whole with love rather than halved with hate. But such was not to be and this is not a small gem of literary beauty, but rather a story of reality. This marriage, too, died when the new bride’s husband, my son, gave up his life to disease and despair and his bride was left to carry on, bereft of children, husband, ring, and history.
Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember the hormonally-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather be still tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon. He can be reached at email@example.com.