Guest post – the “Ring Cycle”

I havna been very good about posting lately and me mum sent me a nice little story. I’ve done a wee bit ‘o editing and enjoy!

OPENING DISCLAIMER: Since I am at heart a woman of character and practicality – not unlike my mother, her mother and her mother before her: those who wore cotton house dresses, orthopaedic-looking shoes and hair in a bun, I am quite content with mostly comfortable, occasionally stylish clothes. Although I, by some measure, have surpassed the “prematurely aged” look they maintained, I’ve always seen it as a little superficial when women around me would gush over what they expected in the way of glitzy and expensive gifts.
“The RING Cycle” by my mother Elaine

I cannot now remember which “old woman” in my family left me the ring with three, rather large fire opals* set up high on their elegant prongs. I think it was Great Aunt Nan from Middlebury, Vermont. I was in high school at the time, impressed with this special gift and somewhat mystified as to how I had been chosen for this particular honor. It was accompanied by a note with instructions: Elaine is to wear it, not put it into a box to save it or hide it away.

So, I wore it all the time and really liked it. Because of its high setting, it kept bumping into things; if one of the stones came out, and that happened several times,I would glue it back in. One time when I was in New York City, an hour of sweaty uncertainty, manipulating the tip of a wire coat hanger down a sink drain, brought it out of harm’s way.
*The opal is my birthstone, (October); a fire opal is multi-faceted, sparkles iridescently and used to be mined primarily in Mexico.

Plymouth, NH, 1966-67: My husband and I moved with our baby boy, from a second-story apartment on Merrill St. (cold and drafty), to a larger, ground-level one on Highland St. (warmer). Since my opal ring kept coming in contact with moving furniture and stuff, I gave it to Dale for safe-keeping that day.

After trips back and forth in somebody’s truck, we came to rest with our furniture and started getting settled. I asked Dale for the ring. His hand dove into his pants pocket and he suddenly started checking all his pockets, emptying out change, keys, everything. He undressed and shook off all his clothes. The ring was not there! A horrible look came over his face, he felt terrible and boy, was I angry! How could he have been so careless?

He back-tracked several times from Highland St. to Merrill St., talked with “Pippi Longstocking” our former landlady, asking her if she had seen it and please, to keep an eye out for it. He thoroughly searched our old apartment: no sight of it anywhere. We searched the new place. No luck. He wore a hang-dog look on his face while I made quite a few barbed and sarcastic remarks about his judgment, his observation skills and a whole lot of other things!

I earnestly prayed that the lingering anger and disappointment would just leave me. Reading the Baha’i Scriptures one day, these words fairly leapt off the page:

“Thou dost wish for gold and I desire thy freedom from it.  Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy sanctity therefrom…Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not, for both shall pass away and be no more. — Baha’u’llah”.

Then it was talking about forgiving instantly and completely.  Of course, I had read all these words before. But this time was different. The anger and sadness left me and never came back.  I told my husband I completely forgave him and to simply forget about it, not dwell upon it.  This is not to say that I don’t have to continue reading sound spiritual advice and keep struggling every day to put it into practice – I do.

A few years later, my Father-in-law, “Bumpa” bought me quite an expensive opal ring. But since I’m not really a “ring person”, and always seemed to have my hands in dishwater, gardening soil or changing diapers, I gently asked him if he would mind if I declined. We were also having issues at the time with “Bumpa” wanting to buy us everything, and to pay most of our bills.  Some have said, “Well, that’s the kind of problem I want to have!” But, really they don’t. And I knew that Dale still felt badly about the ring and couldn’t possibly afford to buy one like that. So “Bumpa” took it back and gave me some clothes instead.
black fire opal en cabochon

Roanoke, Va., February 14, 2011: Many years have passed; Valentine’s Days have come and gone.  It isn’t really an important day for us, but we always utter the perfunctory greeting. Sometimes we’ll give each other something, sometimes not. Usually a card suffices.

I must admit that, over the years, Dale has shown more consideration in this than I: he would get me a tube of oil paint or a little plant, something he knew I wanted. One time I gave my husband one of those free cards, a glossy picture with red roses, that comes from the American Heart Association -that was kinda cheap.  On another occasion, I was in a local supermarket, spotted the $19.99 special on a dozen red roses and got them for him as an impulse purchase. He was very surprised and pleased, said no one had every given him roses like that!

This Monday, my husband handed me a little embossed ivory box along with an assortment of chocolates, his eyes alight with anticipation. I opened the box and inside, hanging from a white gold chain was a lovely fire opal pendant. I burst into tears and haven’t taken it off since.

opal cabochon

Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants.
— Baha’u’llah



  1. Excellent, with the pics and editing. Is there a way by which I can post this on FB?
    I’d love to. Thanks, Helen!

  2. I really appreciated you mother’s opal ring story. When I was around 12 or so (the early 60’s) I was given a small blue opal ring, very simple, the prongs wrapping smoothly up around the little firey stone. It came from one of my great aunts (from New England, mind you.) I don’t remember which side of the family now. I always wore it. I loved to look at it, especially under water. In my late teens I misplaced it, and was beside myself. My mother made some comment about not letting “things” determine how I felt. I did find it, and wore it until I dropped it on tile one day (at this point I was in my mid-to-late thirties), and the stone shattered. Now, at some point in my early 20’s, my mother lost an amythest ring of hers in a jewelry store fire (she had had it in to be reset.), and was sad about it. Unfortunately, I turned her comment to me back on her. Regrettable. I still have my ring and the fragments of opal. Not quite as uplifting a story, and I miss my mother, who is now gone from this world and beyond making amends to.

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