Monday, May 12, 2014

50 Years of Eternal Love but Less-than-Eternal Rings - Part II - Back to the USA!

For the next 10 years, they were busy having babies. Sylvia’s constantly changing size made fitting a ring nearly impossible, and they were both too busy trying to care for their rapidly expanding family to worry about a ring.
Entire Sapphires into the story: Raymond was teaching at a college, gardening, being a landlord, playing and teaching music to make ends meet.  They had just bought their first home – the home they still live in – and each month they were making their house payments with just pennies to spare.  It was a very lean time.  Sylvia loved seeing students come to take guitar lessons because they usually paid in cash, and then she could run to the grocery stores for supplies.  During one particularly tough time, a young man came for lessons.  He told Raymond he couldn’t pay for the lessons he owed in cash and gave him five sapphires from Thailand.  Well, that didn’t buy the days needed groceries so Sylvia stuck the stones in a drawer and forgot about them.
Finally it was time for their 20th wedding anniversary.  Life was looking up.  Raymond had secured a permanent job with benefits, Sylvia was working, the children were doing well, and there was even extra money.  Raymond decided to find a jeweler to design wedding rings for both of them.  He took the largest of the sapphires to surprise Sylvia with another ring.  The jeweler designed matching bands with a braided design.  On Sylvia’s ring, he placed five teeny tiny diamond chips to represent their five children.  Then he made a gold and sapphire ring for Sylvia.  All the rings were so beautiful.
However, even these rings, which Raymond and Sylvia still wear today, had issues.  The jeweler hadn’t soldered the braid properly on Raymond’s ring, and it continually caught on things.  It annoyed Raymond a great deal, but he tried not to complain since he had refused to wear any ring for so long.  Also, the tiny diamond chips in Sylvia’s ring kept falling out.  Each time she lost a chip, one of the children would ask, “Which one of us did you lose momma?”   While it cost very little to replace the chips, it was disconcerting to her and the children.  And the sapphire ring – well it’s gone.  Sylvia went swimming and lost it in a pool. Bergmann’s Jewelers finally fixed both wedding rings – the chips never fell out again, and Raymond’s ring braid behaved. 
In the later years of Sylvia’s mother’s life, she wanted to give something to Sylvia.  She decided to give her the diamond engagement ring from Sylvia’s dad.  Sylvia remembered the sapphires in the drawer, and thought it would be special to add two sapphires to the ring as a reminder of how far they had come from those early days of counting pennies to pay the mortgage and make matching earrings.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t find the four sapphires.  Raymond and Sylvia looked and looked and finally located two of them.  The others must have slipped through cracks in the drawer.  Imagine their surprise when they took those two sapphires to the jeweler and learned  sapphires would have not only helped with the groceries but also the house payment!  They added them to the ring, and Sylvia wore it proudly for many years.  Still there were problems.  Since the gems were high on the band, Sylvia had several mishaps.  She lost one sapphire but found it again, and then she lost another one -  never to be found.  She quietly put her mother’s diamond away with the remaining sapphire. 

That brings us to the rings being blessed here today.  Sylvia’s ring has her mother’s diamond and two sapphires.  Unfortunately, neither is from the original Thailand sapphires.  The jeweler couldn’t match the color or the shape of the remaining sapphire so they are new.  She reset the remaining Thailand sapphire in her mother’s original gold engagement band.  Raymond’s band matches Sylvia’s ring.  Both rings are inscribed with the term of endearment they use for each other – “MiVida”– without a year.  After all, their love is eternal…even if rings have proved to be less than that.
We just keep paddling on....:-)

50 Years of Eternal Love but Less-than-Eternal Rings. Part 1 Gypsies!

50 Years of Eternal Love but Less-than-Eternal Rings

A wedding ring traditionally represents a circle of eternity – without beginning or end, and it has been used as a marriage symbol since the early Egyptians.  In the long courtship and marriage of Raymond and Sylvia, wedding rings were not eternal.  In fact in the beginning, they were an afterthought. 
Sylvia had waited and waited for Raymond to ask her to marry him.  She was certain that this was her destiny.   Raymond was much less certain.  He saw himself as a gypsy flamenco guitarist, traveling the world in search of the perfect falsetta – somehow marriage was just not in his plans.  However, between her persistence and his fear of losing her forever, Raymond finally changed his mind and sent a telegram inviting her to share his mailbox with the memorable words, “No hay musica sin ti”… The rest is history.
Since neither parents approved of the marriage, Sylvia boarded a Greyhound bus with $25, a corsage pinned on her best jacket and headed off to begin her new life.  At the last moment, Sylvia’s mother gave her the wedding ring that Sylvia’s dad had given her mom many years ago – in case Raymond didn’t have one for her.
Not only did Raymond not have a ring, he too had only $25, so ring shopping was obviously not their first priority.  In a simple ceremony at the Houston courthouse, they married and Raymond placed the ring on Sylvia’s finger.  It was a little big, so they found a tiny ring sizer to keep it on her finger.  Somehow between the time they married and left for Spain, the too-large ring finally fell off, and they could never find it.  They boarded a freighter for their new adventures in Europe just as Sylvia had begun her journey to Texas – full of anticipation and no ring.
After some time in Spain, Raymond decided that Sylvia really should have a ring.  At a rastro (or flea market), Raymond found a small gold decorated ring that Sylvia loved and wore proudly, but it later turned her finger green, and they worried about what the ring was actually made of.   When it was time to leave Spain and work in Norway, the young couple left Spain full of anticipation and no ring.

They settled into the cold unforgiving Norwegian climate and worked very hard for 1 and ½ years.  During that time, they made some extra money, and Raymond decided he would try again to buy Sylvia a ring.  This time they settled on a lovely Pewter ring they both loved. The ring was dainty and easy to wear, and it fit perfectly.  With the ring problem solved, they headed back to Spain.   However, this ring was not going to survive either.  One day, it just broke into two pieces.  Sylvia still has part of the ring, but it couldn’t be repaired.  The young couple returned to the United States and began their lives here – full of anticipation and no ring.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Movable Feast

Ours is a large boisterous opinionated family who celebrates often and has a healthy share of disagreements too.   Somehow we always manage to “land with our feet on the ground” and hearts full of love.  It may take a while, but we always seem to get there.  My goodness, did I get the wrong title for this blog post – family, togetherness, love and food?  Actually they are very related and here is how.

Since the children were little, Sunday dinners have been a tradition at our house – the one day we gather, eat and share what is going on in our busy lives.  When the tradition started, ,my parents lived next door, and they joined us.  Raymond’s mom always joins us too because she lives down the street.   Our children can, and often do, invite friends, and we can too, but Sundays are sacred – well as sacred as anything can be in this household.

I used to worry, as our children married and our grandchildren arrived, that we would never fit into our less than adequate dining room.  We have now installed an outdoor kitchen (much cheaper than knocking down walls).  We also redesigned an old table my mom used in her classroom to be our outside table – 13 can easily fit around it and more if we squeeze together, plus we have two additional outside tables.

Then this summer, with an unexpected windfall, we built a pergola over the outdoor kitchen and table so we finally have a central eating area for most of the year.  Raymond can even cook outside in the rain because we built a roof over where he cooks.  So PROBLEM SOLVED? 

Actually no.  Right now we have a very different situation.  Two of my children either are divorced or in the process of divorcing, and one is estranged from his siblings.  This leaves us with a big open dining space and very few diners. 

They come over frequently, and we are blessed to have very close relationships with all our amazing children. However, for the moment, Sundays aren’t as sacred as they used to be.   We are learning to be more spontaneous and flexible, enjoying them as they can and want to interact.  Sometimes that means several smaller dinners in the same week, and that’s ok.

It just seems a little weird that when we finally established a workable area to dine, our numbers shrank.  I am very hopeful the numbers will grow again, and we’ll be ready because after all -  it’s always a “movable feast.”

Loving, Leaving and Letting Go

When my children were little, I thought of myself as the ultimate teacher and protector.  As they grow older, I see that I am more often the learner and can only protect them through positive thoughts and prayers.  Recently, my youngest daughter, Samantha, taught so many of us about love, endings and letting go.

Five years ago, family and friends gathered on Oahu’s beautiful North Shore to celebrate her marriage to her long time boyfriend and best friend.  Everything about their wedding weekend was magical and filled with love and hope.  This is the daughter who lives across the street from us, and we have taken many trips with the two of them.  However, now as we approached this anniversary date five years later, love and hope have been replaced by sadness and disillusionment.  He decided that he couldn’t stay in a committed relationship.  At first, our daughter did everything possible to be the partner that he thought he wanted, but even though they were best of friends, she couldn’t help him find his way back to her, and she finally let him go. 

She has always been the child who wore a strong protective armor so most of us were very surprised about the ending of this special relationship.  Of course there were months of tears, anxiety and extreme sadness, but then she decided it was time to move on.  She is blessed by a wonderful sharing group of supportive friends and family who have helped her realize it’s important to share and be vulnerable.

As the date approached, she seemed strong and confident, but I ached for her and kept her constantly in my thoughts and prayers.  The night before the anniversary soon to be erased from all our calendars, her presence was so strong that I couldn’t sleep.  Finally, I gave up and reached for my phone.  I never check emails in the middle of the night, but for some reason I did.  And there was her email that forever changed how we would deal with the ending of this marriage.

In her beautiful email to loved ones, she reached out and said she had learned through this difficult time the importance of sharing.  She 
assured everyone that her love and marriage was real, and that they had spent many wonderful years together, supporting and loving each other.  She also said, that “although at times it feels like someone is missing” she was moving forward. 

Then she asked us to hold our loved ones and spend time reflecting why we loved them.  She asked us to put a little of that love in our palm and release it for both of them so they could move on in “peace, forgiveness, and resolve” as they moved forward in each of their separate journeys.”
Her style and spirit flowed out of the letter, and I felt such pride in her strength and sweet vulnerability. 

Raymond and I did walk to the beach, hold each other, and put some, actually a lot, of love in our palms to complete her wish. 
I have to admit Raymond had a little harder time than I did with forgiveness.  After all, it’s his baby girl and the protection part is really strong. He kept having a vision of a skunk and this young man in the road and only being able to save one, and let's just say it didn’t have a good ending for the young man.  However, he has always been able to move past anger and disappointments, so I have great faith that he’ll rework this vision too.

Whoever said, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” might be right, but the losing is so hard.  Some of my hardest lessons have been about letting go of anger and hurt, and Samantha taught me so much about letting go.  She says she is moving forward, and I’m so happy to be able to continue on this journey with our smart, stylish, spirited daughter with that great big heart.  .