When I was a little girl, my grandparents had a 1965 Chrysler Imperial. It had been my great-grandmother’s car, and the story was, they got it for her so if she came up against other than a Sherman tank, she’d win. After she passed, my grandparents kept the car and my grandfather babied it until we lost him in 1986.
I adored my grandfather. And, as I was prone to do, I followed him around a lot trying to help with chores. Of course, there was an ulterior motive. I helped so he’d finish faster and take Alexandra and me swimming at the neighbor’s pool, or even better, at the country club where there was a diving board.
One afternoon found me in the back seat of the Imperial “helping” to clean the car, but really, I was digging around for loose change and stray packs of my grandmother’s beloved cinnamon chewing gum. The back seat was a bench seat, and it was basically the size of our current sofa. I have many memories of lying down in that back seat on the way home from Christmas Eves at the Patterson’s. My grandparents would challenge me to look for Rudolph’s blinking nose in the night sky while we drove home. In my little girl mind, it was a magic place, and that afternoon, helping to clean my grandfather’s land yacht of a car, it yielded some treasure for an inquisitive child.
The door armrests in older cars used to flip up, and they would have a storage compartment for things like, maps, tissues, cinnamon chewing gum, etc… I can remember the moment, so clearly, of flipping open the armrest compartment on the right rear door of the Imperial and finding, “the Ring.” It was silver and sparkly and small. I mean, even as a child the ring wasn’t huge on me. I showed it to my grandfather, and asked if I could have it. I mean, it was small, right? Obviously it was meant to be mine. He didn’t recognize it, and told me to go ask my grandmother. She took one look at it and said, “I think it was a piece of my mother’s costume jewelry.” And with that airy dismissal, it became mine.
I got married with “the Ring” countless times as a child. Played dress up, wore my grandmother’s wigs, put on shows, and dance recitals in the living room of the house on Paradise Way. All with the pretty, art deco piece of silver sparkle on my finger. Then I became a tween, and yellow and rose gold were all the rage (What? it was the 80’s), the ring got thrown into my dressing table drawer, and was forgotten for a few years. Finally, developing my own sense of style in my later teens, I began to favor silver and rescued it from the back of the drawer.
So, now it’s 1987 and my Mom and I are at a Florida Press Association conference in Pensacola. We wandered into a jewelry store and the jeweler asked if he could take a look at my unusual ring. So, I hand it over, and the jeweler gives me a stern look and says, “I hope you have this insured young lady.” I was like “Why? It’s just silver and paste!” and he responds, “No, it’s platinum and diamonds.” This ring, I so casually played dress up with, flung into a drawer, and never really gave a thought to it’s whereabouts was so much more than a piece of costume jewelry. I did have it valued in 1990, and well, I was gob smacked. I became more careful with it.
But not as careful as I should have been… Remember how I mentioned it was small? By the time I was an adult, the only finger the ring would fit on was my pinkie finger of my left hand. One night my ex-husband Aaron and I were at a murder mystery dinner party (remember those?), and the dining room had gotten hot, so our hosts opened some windows. It cooled off and eventually it was cool enough, that the ring was slipping off my pinkie finger. I moved it over to my ring finger so it wouldn’t fall off. Then I proceeded to get very tipsy. Needless to say, I forgot to take it off when we got home, and I woke up the next morning with very swollen fingers (I blame the alcohol) and couldn’t get it off. We tried everything. Hand in ice water, olive oil, dish soap. Anything we could think of. Nothing worked, so we headed to the ER and I had the ring cut off my finger. It was that thick, that they had to cut it in two places to get it off. Anyway, we had it repaired and I continued to wear and love it.
Fast forward to February 2017. I’m on a plane coming home from a conference in Las Vegas. Like most people, airplanes dehydrate me, so I slipped the ring and my watch off, and placed them in my lap while I put on some moisturizer. I changed planes in Nashville, and went on to repeat the same routine, but found the ring wasn’t on my finger. I turned everything upside down looking for it, and it was nowhere. Just gone. Panicked, I texted Rob and asked him to get in touch with Southwest in Nashville to see if they could get onto my previous plane to look for it. They did, but it never turned up.
The only thing I can think of, is that I never put it back on during the Las Vegas-Nashville leg. I put my watch on, but I must have left the ring in my lap. You know what I’m like, there are no strangers, so I was talking to the two people next to me throughout the flight, and my ADHD had my mind focused elsewhere.
I know it’s just a thing, but it was an important “thing” to me. The memories I have tied to “the Ring,” are some of my favorites, and I’d be mourning its loss even if it were just silver and paste. I just hope that someone found it, and has started their own story with it. Maybe it’s helped them financially at a time when they needed it. That scenario I could live with. What I can’t take is the thought that it might have been vacuumed up and is sitting in a garbage tip somewhere.
I’ve cried my way through writing this. I played with that ring on my finger constantly. I would always rub my thumb over it when I was thinking. I lost my Mom and my grandparents years ago. With the loss of the ring, I feel a little of that ache all over again because my memories of them are tied to it. For a long time I always made sure that our house insurance had a copy of the valuation on the schedule of our contents. When we moved in 2014, I knew I needed to update it and kept putting it off. I never did get the valuation to the insurance company, but it doesn’t matter. Money won’t bring “the Ring” back to me.