Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Kind Gesture

My fiance and his family haven't always been on the best of terms (no one's fault, in particular). Tumultuous teenage years can often send children and their parents in unwieldy directions. I know mine did. But, I also happen to come from a family that is overly-communicative (read: two psychologist parents), therefore most of our problems (read: my teenage angst) were solved by the time I left for college. My fiance's, however, weren't. His family (and him) chose to sweep their issues under the rug and act chummily when face-to-face, but never deal with their misunderstandings and years of less-than-nice feelings.

That is, until recently. When we lived in New York City, we went up to his parent's house to get away from the grime and grit that is Manhattan. They live in the rolling countryside of the Finger Lakes region in a restored barn. It's amazing, quite frankly. The more and more we visited, the more I could feel the walls break down and warmer feelings come through. It wasn't so much that either party had shifted their views or that deep, problem-fixing conversations were taking place, but that, with a fourth party in the relationship (me), the dynamic was changing. They were no longer only visiting with their son, they were visiting with both of us. And we, as a couple, have developed our own persona. A persona that neither we nor his parents knew before, but a persona that they had to get know, nonetheless. Adding that dynamic-changing role took a little vulnerability on all of our parts, but it's opened up the door a little for emotion, risks, becoming closer and laying things out on the table.

The peace-making moment was this: my future-stepmother-in-law gave her son (my fiance) her mother's engagement ring to give to me. Now, a lot of families pass jewelry down the line, creating heirlooms. For my future-stepmother-in-law, this was more difficult. Her mom passed away when she was six. This platinum-and-diamond ring has much more value to her than probably most of the jewelry in her jewelry box. And not completely because of the metal.

The ring arrived one day via FedEx (he didn't have it when he proposed) and I waited until we were together one evening to open it up. I had preconceived notions of what an antique ring would look like. I pictured ornate curly-ques and thin, fragile details. The ring that arrived was art deco and boxy. It's from depression-era Brooklyn which is, ironically, where we used to live in New York. I slipped it on (okay, after three re-sizings) and, no matter that it's not what I imagined, I cherish it daily. It has major symbolism, and aesthetically, I've grown to love its classic simplicity.

Along with the ring came a card that read something like a peace-offering from his stepmom. To give us something so near and dear to her was a symbol of how much she cares about their relationship (which is now all of our relationship). It makes me proud to wear an heirloom that would have many stories to tell if it could talk--stories of hard times, good times, and lonely times. It's a daily reminder that life is not easy, but with a few words and a little generosity, it can be be a whole lot smoother.

Does anything in your wedding have back story?

Photos by Tim Carr

1 comment:

CmentMixer said...

Ma Chere also wears my mother's wedding band. It is a plain gold band.
On the other hand (pun intended), I wear a custom designed engagement ring my wife gave to me when she proposed to me.