When my first grandchild was born, my mother gave me a ring.
It is a noteworthy event when a new generation appears in a family. Everyone in the family was extremely excited about this new development. And in our family, such milestones were often commemorated with a gift of jewelry. My mother and I were standing in her beautiful blue and white bedroom. I noticed our reflection in the mirror. We both looked young to be grandmother and great-grandmother. Mother, at 71, was lovely and trim. And I was a young looking 47. Mother said,” In honor of your new status as a grandmother, I want to give you a gift.” She opened her hand. She was holding something that sparkled like a diamond because it was a diamond.
She gave me a ring my father gave her as a present on their 20th wedding anniversary. I have always admired that ring. In the center is a heart-shaped diamond of several carats set in platinum. There is a diamond triangle on each side of the stone. My mother said, “Don’t expect one like it for every grandchild!” She had no idea how many grandchildren I would have when she said that. The ring symbolizes all 17 of my grandchildren. One ring is enough. It makes me happy to see it on my finger.
The shape turned out to be a precarious setting. It was actually constructed in such a way that the center stone was held in place with only one prong at the tip of the heart and one on each side of the top of the rounded sides of the heart shape. Perhaps some women who change their rings daily might not have had a problem. But I wore that ring every day, no matter what my activity. It was on my finger when I went foxhunting, gardening, cooking, or traveling. I never took it off.
One day as I was getting dressed in the morning, I opened one of the drawers in my bathroom vanity. It was stuck, and when I forced it open, I caught the edge of my ring finger on the drawer above it. It struck my finger hard as I withdrew my hand. It hurt. But I did not look down at it for more than a second. I was busy and in a hurry to get on with my day. From there, I went through our very long house to the far end where our daughters’ rooms were. I went into Helen’s room and immediately noticed that her balcony doors had blown open. I went across the room and reached up to slide the latch at the top of the door to keep it from opening by mistake. I nearly fainted when I put my hand up above my head to slide the latch. On my hand was an empty ring. The center stone was missing. My heart nearly stopped. I was in a panic. What on earth had happened to my ring? Where could the stone be? I dropped to my knees and began to retrace my steps. I crawled all the way back to my bathroom. Looking everywhere, right and left. I made slow progress down the stairs, through the bar area, and on. On my knees, I traveled through the playroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, and up the circular staircase to our hall, into our bedroom and around the bed to my bathroom. It was a long trip. No luck. Finally, I remembered hitting my finger on the drawer earlier.
I looked all around but could not see it. Finally, I noticed a small zipper bag that had been open in the lower drawer. I dumped all the hairpins out of it onto a towel. Eureka! There was the stone, glittering up at me as if nothing was wrong. Relief washed over me like a wave, and my heart rate slowed. After the long futile crawl through my entire house, I could not believe my luck. When I took it to a jeweler later that day so he could reinstall it in the ring, I remarked on my success at finding the stone. He said with a smile, “You would be surprised at the number of people who recover a lost stone of this type. They go to extraordinary lengths to find them if they go missing.”
You would think that was the end of the story. But it was not.
A couple of years later, we were in Scotland for a Matheson Family reunion. We love Scotland and always enjoy showing it to our children if possible. A lot of our family went over to this celebration. They could not all be there, but Robert came, and so did Lilla with her 2 of her children Elias and Delilah. We were all staying in a small rustic hotel near Lochalsh. It was a white, two-story, stucco building with a slate roof. The hotel had a gravel parking lot where we parked our rental car. Our room had a view of this large open space.
We spent all day sightseeing. We visited Loch Ness (looking for Nessie) and had lunch in a local restaurant, and finally arrived back at the hotel. I knew the stone in my ring was loose because I could move it back and forth with my finger. It was just a tiny movement, but it should have been a huge red flag warning to me. When we got out of the car, I caught my ring finger on the edge of my raincoat pocket. It felt strange. When I was out of the car, I looked at my ring, which was empty in the center. Shock and awe do not adequately describe my feelings at that moment. When I told Charley, he was upset. “We could have paid for the entire trip for what that stone is worth!” He said with genuine regret. And I felt terrible because I knew he was right. I felt guilty because I had known the stone was loose. It was all my fault. And the stone was probably somewhere on the banks of Loch Ness or the floor at that restaurant. I knew we would never be able to find it again. I felt resigned. I felt despair. I felt terrible because it was so clearly my own fault.
Then a strange thing happened. We were in our hotel room, and our son Robert was with us. We were talking about the loss of the diamond and how hopeless it would be to try to retrace our steps. As I looked out the window, I saw some other guests out in the parking area. They were looking down, staring into the gravel of the driveway, by their car. I don’t know why. Were they checking on a flat tire? Were they also looking for something they dropped? I don’t know. But looking back, I wonder if they were angels.
Something about how they were looking gave me the idea that maybe we should look for the diamond near our car since that is where I first noticed it was gone. Robert went down to search for the stone in the gravel near the car. Charley said it was hopeless, and I stayed with him because his mood was so dark. In a few minutes, Robert came bounding back up to our room. He beamed with a smile that went from ear to ear! “I found it!” He said, handing it to me.” It was in the gravel almost under the tire of the car.”
If we had not seen those people looking so carefully, meticulously, at the gravel, I don’t think we would have thought of looking right there. It seemed so unlikely that the diamond fell out in our own parking space after we had been all over the countryside all day.
But that is exactly where it was. I kept it close to me in an envelope until we got home to the USA. Then I had the stone put back in place, and the setting tightened.
Several years later, we divorced, and I moved to a house on Wildcat Mountain. It was a house with a long paved driveway. Beyond my house, the driveway continued up the mountain to a house where the owners no longer lived. It was a mile and a half walk up the mountain and the same distance downhill to my home, making it a perfect daily walk. My dog Lord Byron insisted on doing it every day. Rain or shine, wind or hot weather, he would not let me skip it. One particular day, as I walked up the mountain road, I could feel my heart-shaped diamond wiggle within the setting. I clicked it back and forth as I walked. Coming down the mountain on the hard driveway, I felt the diamond drop out of the ring. I froze. I was alone except for my dog. I panicked for a moment but then thought of how I had already recovered the stone twice before. The road, which was partially covered with fallen leaves, seemed an impossible place to find a dropped stone. I looked carefully and extremely slowly around where I was standing. It took a few minutes, but suddenly, I saw it glittering in the sunlight. God was with me that day. I was so thankful I picked it up and put it back in the ring. It seemed to fit, and I walked on for a few yards. And then it fell out again.
Oh my God! How could I have been so stupid? I knew it was loose enough to fall out, and yet I replaced the stone and began walking again. OF COURSE, it was going to fall out again. And again, I froze in place. Not daring to take another step, I waited for my heart rate to slow and my eyes to accustom themselves to the look of the fallen leaves. And sure enough, in a minute or two, I saw it. The stone lying partially under a leaf shone up at me. I picked it up and put it into my pocket, wrapped in a Kleenex.
As soon as I got home, I transferred it to a jewel box and soon took it to the jewelry store. “PLEASE fix this ring, so it never falls out again,” I said. The jeweler showed me his plan for adding two more prongs to the ring to hold it solidly in place. It may have hampered the spectacular beauty of the stone, but at least it has kept it safe for the last 16 years without a mishap. Every day I look at this ring as I wash and put on my makeup or comb my hair. It has so many memories tied up in one stone that I could write many chapters about events that have occurred in my life since I began wearing it. It has seen me through the last 33 years since my first grandson was born. That was 1989, and now we are solidly into the 2022 time span. Tremendous changes have taken place in that amount of time. The whole world has changed.
This beautiful ring is now a talisman. It is with me always and comforts me in a way that most jewelry does not. I believe it has to do with the shocks I endured when thinking I had lost the stone and the intense relief when it was found. Life is full of this sort of loss and rebirth of hope. This ring symbolizes both to me. I cherish it.
Copyright©. 2022 Bonnie B. Matheson