Monday, June 29, 2015

With This Ring...

I recently started watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix, a rather lackluster series (despite the terrific cast) about two women (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) whose business-partner husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson) leave them after 40 years of marriage.  Leave them because they are homosexuals, and want to marry each other.  Ironically, I had drafted this post when I watched an episode that had Frankie and Grace laboring over wearing/not wearing their rings... 
When we finally decided to get married (after SIX years of back-and-forth dating) we did things rather quickly.  He proposed just after Thanksgiving and before my birthday. 

“Let’s not tell anyone until we’ve made some decisions,” I said.

“Like what?” he asked with a puzzled look on his face.  I don’t think he knew the production he was about to get in to. 

“Well, the big stuff…the date, the china, the silver.  Once I tell anyone in my family I’m finally getting married they’re going to bombard me with a million questions and I’d just rather have some things set.”  This was a very typical reaction on my part.  I always said: Weddings, births, and deaths  they bring out the best in families and they bring out the WORST.  I wanted to be prepared. 

We picked the date  May 10, less than six months away.   We went out shopping for china.  In those days when you were getting married, you picked china, silver, crystal.  While not crazy about such finery I did think that I would need and use such things because my mother did and my sister did and everyone I knew had these things for when "company" came. 

I chose Bernadaud Limoges Bel Ami china  a beautifully delicate jewel-toned pattern (based on a Clarence House fabric) that was first made that very year.  I love my china.  [Discontinued in 1998.]

Next, the silver.   Despite family tradition, I looked for the absolute plainest, simplest sterling silver though I knew this would be a blow to my mother who came from the family of loving the most ornate silver you can imagine.  

My mother’s silver pattern was Rose Point by Wallace (pretty damn ornate) 

but she always felt slighted not having the extremely ornate Grand Baroque below (which her sister had) 

 Neither of these patterns held any appeal for me.  Too fancy, too much going on.

Fortunately we found and agreed on the simple and elegant Chippendale by Towle.

Now we had the dishes and we had the silver.   But when it came to the "crystal," I inhaled deeply and took another leap from what was expected.  No intricate stemware, no etched glass.  Just simple, serviceable, Mikasa glassware would be fine for us.   Plain with a ribbed column stem these glasses suited me just fine.  And while our pattern is no longer available (except on eBay) and our set didn't survive the years, one of the original boxes did...

Now for the most important of all  the rings.  Getting the rings was different.  More meaningful.  More symbolic.  I wasn’t one of those girls who’d always imagined a specific style of ring.  I didn’t have a clue what I wanted, or even what would look good on my short stubby fingers.  So I worried the ring shopping was going to be a challenge.  

We headed to the Diamond District in Manhattan, to the jeweler my boss used for many things  Tom Murray.  Suddenly and surprisingly, without much of a search among the estate jewelry,  I found my ring.  An old and lovely filigreed raised setting with tiny, tiny diamonds all around.  Apparently the perfect diamond in it had been removed so we had a to buy a round-cut stone to set in its place.  I was very, very happy with my half-carat sparkle.  I felt it was completely the right fit for me.  Engagement ring, ✔.

Next, on to the wedding bands.  This was going to be a tougher proposition.  I didn’t wear much gold, not my thing, not good with my coloring, so the field was narrowed down tremendously.   We left Tom Murray's and went from shop to shop, stall to stall  looking, looking, looking.  Everyone tried to sell us gold.  I really did not want a gold band.  It was getting tedious.  It was wearing us both down.  And then, when we were both tired and feeling as if we'd have to call it a day, there it was  a thin platinum band with seven tiny diamonds.  Hmmm...3 & 4 are my lucky numbers. Seemed a good sign.  Then when I looked inside the band, good turned to great.  I saw 5-53  engraved which signified to me May 1953.  We were getting married in May of 1986  33 years after that date.  And I was thirty-three.  The serendipity of it made me smile. This ring was meant for me.

Happily I've worn these rings for 29 years and never stopped loving them. They fill me whenever I look down and see them sparkling on my finger.  I took them for granted because they were always there.  It seems absurd to say, but one of the things I’m dreading most is the prospect of some day not wearing my rings.   

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