Unfortunately, my Fashion Friday columnist Sammie is on hiatus. Sammie has been busy working on a project for a FCCLA meeting she’s attending as we speak. So instead, here’s a little something I had written for a short story contest.
By the way, the story is true and really one that touches me because it speaks to the honesty of people and the enduring bonds of friendship.
An engagement ring symbolizes so many things to so many different people. To my grandmother, it symbolized the love she and her husband Antonio shared. A love that had taken them from their small Spanish village to the hot and humid climes of Havana.
The ring also symbolized that they had made it in their new home for my grandfather worked long hard hours so he could give his bride such a special gift.
To me the ring came to symbolize so much more.
My grandparents stayed behind in Cuba when my parents were forced to flee. They took care of my sister and me, suffering through militiamen’s harassment and the fear they would never be able to leave. When the call finally came from my parents that it was time to go, everything was chaos. There was little time for my grandparents to pack up two young children and give away what was left so that their friends and neighbors would have it rather than Castro’s thugs.
In all that chaos, the engagement ring, that ring that meant so much to them, was lost.
Those first few years in America were tough on my grandparents. The weather was cold, the people sometimes colder. They couldn’t speak English and so found themselves isolated. But they had each other. Even as a child, their love was something to behold. I didn’t need a ring to know it. Their love was brighter than any diamond or piece of gold.
But my grandfather wanted an outward sign so others would know as well. As rough as it was, and he was well past sixty when he came here, he worked at odd jobs, helping to pay the bills and always, putting away a little something.
In time, he found the jeweler who had made my grandmother’s engagement ring and he had the man make him another, just like the first. He presented it to my grandmother, wanting her to know that despite all the hardships, his love was still as bright as that new ring.
Many years after my grandfather had died, over twenty years since my family had left Cuba and the first engagement ring behind, an old neighbor knocked on the door. He had learned that my family was close by and had come to visit for two reasons.
First, like all Cubans, because he yearned for a piece of what had been part of the good times in Cuba.
But second, and more importantly, to return something he had kept all those years – my grandmother’s engagement ring.
She had left it in the pocket of a robe that she had given to his wife in the days when we were getting ready to leave Cuba. They had held onto it all those years, through some rough times. Without knowing if they would ever see us again.
On that day, the ring came to symbolize to me not only my grandparent’s love, but the love of friends; the kind of honor that we sometimes doubt exists.
It was all there, in a ring of diamonds and platinum, none of which shined as brightly as the love with which it was given and protected.