The Only Jewelry I Own

I am presently participating in a writing class offered through the Literary Kitchen and one of my writing mentors, Ariel Gore. Among our assignments each week is a ‘Quick Write’ exercise, which is to be completed in eight minutes or less, in response to a prompt. For this week’s QW, the direction was to ‘Read the prompt. Allow an image to come to mind from early in your life and write to that image. The prompt: A piece of jewelry. Here’s my QW assignment:

It’s one of my earliest recollections. I’m not sure how old I was—four, maybe? I was lying across my dad’s lap, watching Saturday morning cartoons. Dad was rubbing my back.

His hands were rough; scratchy on my back. I turned back to him and said something about it. He opened his hands in front of me. I could see the rough skin, nicks and callouses across his palms and up and down each of his fingers. I also noticed the gold band—his wedding ring—that rode, loosely, his ring finger.

“What happened to your hands?”

“That’s from hard work. They’re like that because I work hard with my hands to take care of you and your brothers and sisters, because I love you.”

I twisted the ring on his finger. “And why do you wear this?”

“It reminds me that I made a promise to your mom to be the best husband I can be.”

I forgot about that conversation immediately. Cartoons were on, after all.

It came flooding back some twenty years later. Having proposed to my girl, and in the excitement as I shared that news with my family, my Mom pulled me aside.

“I wonder if you’d like to have this?” she said, retrieving my dad’s wedding ring from her jewelry box. “He’d be proud to have you wear it. It comes with a lot of responsibility—he was a great husband and father. You’ve got big shoes to fill to be a husband like that.” I flashed back to the back rub, rough hands and that gold band on his finger: “… Hard work because I love you … I made a promise to your mom …”

“I’ll be honored to wear his ring. Thank you!”

I don’t think a day passes apart from my seeing that ring on my hand, or twisting it on my finger—thinking of Dad—and remembering the promise I made to my wife, and the promise we made in bringing our children into this world. It’s an invaluable piece of jewelry—the only piece I own.

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