I slip my grandmother’s ring onto the middle finger of my right hand. It’s looser than I remember it. My cheeks have lost their fullness, too. I look in the mirror and think that this is what I look like as a woman.
“He gave it to her for their ruby wedding anniversary”, Auntie Joan told me after the funeral, sharing out the jewelry between my sister and me. The flamboyant opal pendant went to my sister, because concerts are more flamboyant than research. I was given the rings. The engagement ring: a lowset, elegant band of diamonds. He was a bank clerk and she, who was she when they met? The silver ring that he made her himself, along with rings and bracelets for their daughters and grandchildren. I remember running into her open arms and the smell of her campher chest. I remember sitting on his lap and playing in his garden. The ruby ring, for forty years of love. It encircles my finger. I keep it on when I shower, when I sleep, because I don’t want to stop believing in the love it promises is possible. I don’t wear the zirconium. It catches in clothes and tears stockings and is not for everyday. The wedding ring is likewise untouched in my jewelry box. It seems not to be mine, though it was given to me.
Ruby, diamond, ruby, diamond, ruby: held close to each other by slightly uneven golden claws. It is imperfect, one diamond smaller than the other. The golden band tapers to almost nothing at the back of my finger. A jeweller told me that the diamonds are cut in an old-fashioned manner. Once, I imagine, it belonged to another beloved woman. Perhaps she died without granddaughters to leave her jewellery to, and so my grandfather bought it for the woman he loved. Generations of love: he loved her, they loved me. The ring is a bond to remind me of this.
One day, perhaps not till after my death, but one day, I’ll give the ring away. With love.