Mama's Rings





Sometimes a writing prompt can be found right on your own hand and spiced with memories.



MAMA’S RINGS

            Mama and I sat in the VA hospital waiting room waiting for the doctor. The previous night Mama had a bout of high blood pressure with its typical headache and shortness of breath. She had gotten it down with her medication but it was time to get checked out.
            Normally the wait to be seen by a medical professional at the VA was long so we had each brought a book to read but the books lay at our sides and we talked instead.
            “Is there anything you want before I get rid of it?” Mama asked. She had always been a minimalist but in her late 80s she was even more determined to unload her possessions as she didn’t want to burden my brother and I with having to deal with them when she was gone. It was a sad conversation but she’d been preparing us for our parents’ deaths since I was in high school so I had become a bit inured to the topic.
            “Not really,” I told her.
            “How about my good dishes?”
            “No,” I said. I didn’t like those dishes though I wouldn’t tell her that. “I have two sets of dishes, that’s enough.”
            “CDs? Books? Videos?”
            “No, nothing really. You sound as if the doctor is going to examine you and tell you you’re going to die tomorrow.”
            “He is.” She smiled. Mom’s attitudes were hard to understand and yet I understood her all too well.
            “Let’s see how it goes. You sound fine right now.”
            “So, really, there’s nothing you want?”
            “The only thing I would want is your diamond ring. I always loved it and Daddy gave it to you so it means a lot to me.”
            Mama took off the ring and handed it to me.
            “Not now,” I said. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. All you had to do was compliment her on a piece of jewelry or an article of clothing and it was yours.
            “No, no,” she said. Take it. Enjoy it.
            I slipped it on my finger knowing it was useless to argue. A week later I took it to a jeweler to replace one of the diamond chips and have it sized to my finger. The ring sat alone on my right hand ring finger for two years before Mama succumbed to pneumonia and passed away in the VA hospital. When I went to her apartment to sort out her things and talk to her landlord I found her wedding band on her dresser. I slipped that on my finger along with the engagement ring and they sit there to this day. Shiny gold and diamond reminders of the woman who taught me everything I know about life. These rings bring sadness of her passing but they also make me smile. Simple in their beauty, the way Mama was.


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