When Sam and I first started talking about marriage, of course engagement rings came up. And without hesitation, I immediately said that I didn’t want Sam to buy me one, I wanted to wear my grandmother’s.
Which means that I suppose I should give you a bit of background on my grandparents. They were pretty much the most wonderful grandparents a kid could ever have, and they are a huge part of who I am today. It was my grandmother who took me to the theatre at the age of 3, convinced I was old enough for it – I sat there rapt through the entire show. She took me to the ballet, she instilled a love of musicals in me. She made fresh bread every day and once took me to a bakery and convinced the baker to show me around behind the scenes. My grandmother traveled the world. She even went to Cuba by herself in the early 50s. My grandfather was a former Marine who served in two wars, but was one of the gentlest people I’ve ever known. My earliest memory of my grandfather is him laying outside on a beach in North Carolina, with a 4 year old me curled up against his stomach as he told me “scary” stories about swamp monsters. They were both voracious readers and their house had more books in it than our local library.
After my parents’ divorce, my grandparents played an even bigger part in my life, sometimes coming to stay with us for months on end. Every child one day realises that their grandparents won’t be around for too much longer. But I was so lucky, they were in good health, and they weren’t that old so I’d never worried. My senior year of university, I received the worst phone call of my life: they’d be visiting my mom and brother and on the drive back to their house they were hit by an oncoming truck and were both killed instantly. It’s a cliche to say that it felt like I was punched in the gut, but it did. Punched in the gut while someone else simultaneously squeezed my heart tight in their fist.
I’ll always regret that they never had the chance to meet Sam. But here we are, almost 5 years later and I am planning a wedding. I was a little girl that dreamed of white dresses and in all of my daydreams, my grandparents were always there smiling back out at me. Reality doesn’t often mirror dreams and they won’t be there. But by wearing my grandmother’s ring I feel that there will still be a connection. It’s no longer my grandma’s ring or my ring, but a family ring originally owned by someone I loved whole-heartedly, put on my finger by someone else I love whole-heartedly.
Now how Sam approached my mom to ask for it, and how my mom managed to ship it to England without me knowing is a whole other story!