Years ago, my mother told me she wanted me to have her wedding set and that when the time came, I should have it reset and wear it.
When her wedding and engagement rings were passed to me, I tucked them away for awhile. It didn’t seem right to tear them apart and make something new from the rings Daddy had given Mama as a symbol of their love. So, I considered leaving them as they were, tucked in a dark corner of my dresser drawer. I could take them out now and then, remember how they hung loose on her aged fingers… or try to remember how they looked on younger hands with beautifully self-manicured nails and wrinkle-free skin.
But, that wasn’t what she told me to do. And so, I found a jewelry designer to make something new out of those old and special rings. I thought the symbol of thier love would be lost. But, that’s not so.
I’m looking at a beautiful new ring on my finger. It sparkles in the sun like it did when the old rings were new… and I remember what Mama and Daddy told me over the years — their love story:
Mama was a banker’s daughter. Her name was June. Daddy was a farmer’s son. His name was David.
You could say that farmers and bankers are partners of sorts. When times are good, the farmers feed the bank. When times are bad, the banker feeds the farmer’s family and finances the next year’s crop.
I don’t know if it was a bad year, or a good year, when the farmer brought his young son with him to see the banker. The boy kept peeking around his dad to see the banker’s daughter. The banker’s daughter kept peeking around the corner to see the farmer’s son. And that’s how my mom and dad met.
Years later, they began dating in high school. By the time June was sixteen and David was seventeen, they’d had a long romance, and they ran away to get married. I asked Mama why they decided to do that. She said they thought it would be fun.
By this time, Lillian (June’s mother) was widowed and carried the burden of a runaway daughter alone. I’m not sure how she found them. But, she did, and the underage marriage was annulled. I’m sure she thought the kids were too young to be in love and the romance would end.
I’m not sure about the details of the punishment. At the least, David was on Lillian’s persons-for-June-to-avoid list and June was grounded. Their dating privileges were cancelled but I think they found a way to meet in secret.
When June graduated from high school, Lillian sent her to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, a long train ride away from Mt. Park, Oklahoma. June had a round-trip train ticket home for Christmas and a one way ticked back when she finished her freshman year.
Lillian thought time and distance would put an end to that juvenile romance.
However, David was not a man to give up easily. Soon after June returned to Mt. Park for the summer. He called her and asked her to meet him in Oklahoma City. I don’t know if she took the train or the bus to their second wedding. As far as I know, none of June’s family attended. David had aunts and cousins living in the city. They might have witnessed the ceremony.
June and David were on their own, and some years were hard but they made a good life together. They’d been married 56 years when the angels came for Daddy. Although they were parted by death, Mama considered herself Daddy’s wife until she breathed her last breath. She wore her wedding set until her fingers became so thin and knarled they no longer fit, but their love lived on.
I’m glad Mama instructed me to wear this new ring. It reminds me that love never dies, and the old can become new again without losing its meaning.