It would never have occurred to me that it would mean as much as it has, and it never crossed my mind that I would cherish it as I have. I suppose that's what makes it even more meaningful.
Mama wasn't fancy by any stretch of the imagination. A small cake of cornbread and a cold glass of buttermilk often sufficed just fine for her supper. A home grown, juicy tomato thrilled her beyond measure and presents were often wrapped with masking tape. She was sturdy and solid, not fancy or frivolous.
"If I knew that I'd live long enough to get the use out of it, I'd buy me a new mattress and box springs," she said once about five years before she died. It sums up the woman bred of the mountains that she was -- money was not to be squandered and whatever was bought should do you for a long time.
That's why it seems odd if a person gave too much mind to it, that Mama had three sets of wedding rings in her lifetime. The first one bought back in 1940, when their "I do's" were said, has a diamond that is nothing much more than a speck. Gradually, they got a little bigger.
This I know -- they were all Daddy's doings because Mama would have kept that first one and lived happily all of her life. She never longed or lusted for expensive things.
The last one, though, she kept for 35 years. It is a round cluster of small diamonds set in yellow gold. When Mama died and Louise collected together her jewelry, she asked, out of the blue, on the Saturday after we had laid her to rest beside Daddy in that country church's cemetery, "Would you like to have this set of rings?"
Tears filled my eyes and I reached out for them. "Oh," I whispered softly for I had never thought of possessing those rings -- the cluster and the thin gold band. "Yes. I would love it."
And so from that day forward, I have rarely been without those rings. They bring a comfort to my heart and spirit that words, no matter how grand, cannot describe.
Something rather amazing happened, though, when Mama died and her rings moved to reside on my right hand, the sparkle of that ring seemed to multiply significantly -- as though it had been kissed by the lips of an angel.
"Have you noticed how this ring sparkles on my hand?" I asked Louise.
She nodded. "Yes, I have. I don't remember it shining like that on Mama's hand."
Others have mentioned it, too. One day during lunch, my friend, Sue, reached across the table to take my hand.
"Is that your Mama's ring?" she asked. I touched it lovingly with the forefinger of my other hand and nodded.
"I don't remember it having such a sparkle," she commented.
"No one else does, either," I said. "It's like a gift from God, reminding me that Mama is still with me."
"I know what you mean," she replied, explaining that she had had a ring made from a tie tack that had belonged to her son, Jay, who had been one of my best friends in college. A few years after we graduated, he died of a blood disorder with which he had been born. Sue and I stay close, joined by the bond of our mutual love for Jay.
She pointed to a horseshoe shaped ring studded with small diamonds. Jay was an avid horseman all his life. "This was Jay's and I had it made into a woman's ring from his ring."
"It helps, doesn't it?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied softly. "It helps a lot."
Time marches on and I move further away on earth from those who are gone but closer to them in eternity. Meanwhile, I am comforted by Mama's sparkle.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should). Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.