Archive for the 'rings' Category

Inconsistent defenses

September 4, 2013
  • “I was daydreaming.”
  • “I was addressing someone else.”
  • “I thought I was addressing someone else.”
  • “You were hearing someone else.”
  • “I was lying and you should have realized that.”
  • “I changed my mind.”
  • “I’ll do it later.

I remember learning in law school about inconsistent defenses.  In terms of zealous defense of a client, I can see where they have a place.  In terms of social relations, they tend to undermine credibility.

The above list come from a spiritual story in which the guy has promised the girl marriage.  In earlier versions he has given her a ring, but in later versions, the idea is reworked as a treatment of how people use words.  For me, it’s really about how one person’s indulgence in a diversion can be a serious, and potentially devastating, issue in the other person’s life.


A ring

July 20, 2013

When I was visiting my mother in early February, after my father’s death, she gave me some rings that he had kept in a small leather case with a snap closure.

We knew which was my father’s wedding ring.  He hadn’t worn it much, I think he wore it at the outset of their marriage, but it irritated his skin, so for most of his marriage he didn’t wear it.  It is interesting to see how sharp the facets of it still are — those on my mother’s ring had become worn and blunted because she wore hers (with a brief hiatus when she worried about being mugged for it on the NYC subway and not being able to get it off over a swollen knuckle) all the time.

Then there’s a ring with a date of 1718 inscribed in it.  It’s a bright yellow gold and it has maybe what you’d call beadwork at both edges of the band — kind of like the equivalent of molding at the top and bottom edges of a wall.  That ring I feel I should like — it’s got a date, it’s got initials inscribed in it, too, (AMK and BH) but I can’t say I’m drawn to it.

It’s the third one I want to wear.  It’s a softer color gold.  It’s narrower than the others.  It seems to have an 85 and at A T inscribed inside it, but I don’t quite understand what they represent, given the way they are done.  So the details of the inscription don’t explain its appeal to me.

All three are men’s rings, the second two I don’t know whose.  My mother doesn’t know, either.

Being a man’s ring, this third ring doesn’t fit any of my fingers, not even thumbs.  (None of them do.)  I’ve taken to wearing it, though, on my left index finger, by wearing above it a ring that actually fits that finger and thus keeps this other ring on as well.

Luckily no one has asked me to explain why I’m wearing it, because I’m not sure I could put it into words.

Mourning ring

February 22, 2013

My dad was a big fan of Wagnerian operas and, of course, the Ring Cycle.  That may be part of why I’ve been thinking about rings lately.

There are other contributing factors.  My mother lost her wedding ring, she thinks at the hospital, during one of my dad’s stays last fall.  It seemed to me (and I think to her) like a harbinger of his death.

After his death, she gave me some rings, including my father’s wedding band.  Its facets are still sharply defined, unlike those on her lost band, which had been worn much smoother because she had worn hers.  (She had one period during which she wore a substitute ring — when crime was high in New York City and arthritis made it difficult for her to get her ring off, and she was afraid of what would happen if someone attempted to rob her of it on the street or in the subway and she couldn’t get it off fast enough or at all.)

One of the other bands I am wearing.  It’s too big on all of my fingers, but I can put it on my left index finger and wear another ring above it.  It’s a soft gold in color, not really rose but not really yellow, it’s plain and simple.

My mother also gave me a ring that had belonged to her mother, one she calls a dinner ring.  It’s art deco, and I think she must have had it sized down for herself, because it’s only a little too big for my right ring finger.  If I wear it, I put on another ring as a guard.

I want to note that one of the reasons my mom gave me the rings is her concern about people coming into the house taking them, and lo, she discovered someone had gone through things of hers recently.

When I wear the dinner ring on my right ring finger, it almost looks like an engagement ring.  I was looking on line about such “dinner rings,” or “cocktail rings,” to see if they ever get sold or worn as engagement rings.

That’s when I came across the concept of a mourning ring.  I don’t know much about them, but the notion resonated for me, because I, and many other widows I’ve known, have struggled with what ring, or rings, to wear after bereavement.  So I bought a mourning ring on line, and once I had paid for it, it occurred to me that I need(ed) to move through my mourning before I can wear a dinner ring.  Or an engagement ring — even one I haven’t had to pay for myself (that’s a ring I won’t buy for myself).

I’ve had a sense before of a saga about rings that’s not the one celebrated in Wagner’s operas.  In the one I have in mind, a young widow mistakes a ring receives from a mourner as an engagement ring that is really a widow’s ring.  She waits in futility for the man who gives it to her to return to marry her.  There is a language and culture barrier involved.

This time I heard a more hopeful version.  There is a man who loves her enough to help her through her mourning, to give her prompts that help her do what she needs to do to get unstuck and move through it and out of it.  He trusts that if he does, she will move through it, and not wither and die herself (the equivalent of throwing herself on her husband’s funeral pyre) — and that if he does provide the help out of the deep love in his heart that expects nothing in return, that she will then afterwards fall into his arms, so to speak, and be ready to wear an engagement ring, his, if he wants.

That, to me, is a deep love — love enough to help someone mourn a predecessor in the role one might harbor competitive feelings about.  That is enough to open a widow’s heart to another man.  And that is enough to help the man locate his own deep and abiding compassionate heart.

Feather and ring

October 9, 2011

I didn’t leave myself enough time for a long walk before the time Jonas said he would call, so I didn’t go into the woods, although I passed by it on my way back.  I came home, Jonas called, Jordan said his friend wasn’t coming over, and so I headed back out, this time for the woods.

I went up to the top of the clearing in the middle, along the path the poodle used to choose, and the light slanting in from the west through the trees and down the hill was pretty.  I sat on a rock for a bit, then got up.  I had thought that I didn’t want to ask for more hawk feathers, it would start feeling greedy, but I was drawn to edge of the clearing and there saw the end of a feather protruding from some leaves.  I thought it might be a pigeon feather, but, no, when I pulled it out, it was big and striped and hawkish.

So, I feel as if I have someone to thank for this, and for the ring I found in an antique store on Friday.

I was across the street, buying woolly socks for the long winter nights with the oil-fueled heat turned down, and I thought I might as well go visit Fancy Flea since I had time left on the parking meter.  The store is somewhat of a collapsed version from what I remember of it, and I didn’t ask (I guess it’s been years since I’ve been in to it), but they were showing rings to some tourists from Dallas, Texas, so I thought, “Well, I’m still looking for a ring configuration for my hands that suits, might as well look, too.”    I don’t always have much luck, unless I want to go through the added step of having the ring sized, because I have small fingers.  Having just been told in the shoe store where I bought my socks that the waterproof sheepskin boots I usually spend the winter in don’t come short anymore and that they hadn’t ordered down as far as my size in the tall version, I was not assuming I’d find anything that fit among the rings (not to mention something I could afford), but there it was, the perfect pink gold (they told me, “rose gold”) simple band, and that fits my ring finger on my right hand, and for $55.  This I could do, especially in light of a(n unrelated) discount credit of $39 I’d just gotten the night before — it felt almost as if somebody else (and I’m not going to use the subjunctive) was paying for it, which also sat better with me in the context of receiving what must have been a (somebody else’s) wedding band.

So, I wanted to say something semi-publicly about the ring and the feather and my sense of coming home.  It is clearly a more positive experience than what Robert Graves wrote about in “To Bring the Dead to Life” (I don’t feel as if I’m impersonating a ghost), and while the ring reminds me a little of the ring worn by a friend of mine who was a Roman Catholic nun when I knew her (similar simplicity, same finger), it is different from that, too.  (It is clear to me that the ring has nothing to do with Willy.)  I’m not exactly sure what else to say; isn’t there another Graves poem called “Leaving the Rest Unsaid?”