Today my grandma turned 92 years old. This picture was taken this Christmas. My face red from tears.
We were sitting on the couch by the tree when she randomly took her engagement ring off of her hand and dropped it into mine.
We had always known that the ring would go to me, as the oldest grandchild, but I’ve never thought much about it (since, you know, in my head, my grandma is going to live forever). Of course I insisted she take it back. I told her I want her to still have it and wear it.
She wouldn’t. It was end of discussion — as if she decided it was time to pass a torch of some sort.
As I excused myself to go ugly cry for a minute before dinner, I thought of all of the meals (of course) prepared with that ring, the selfless woman who wore it every day… setting her roots as a first-generation American whose parents immigrated here from Italy, the 30+ costumes she sewed with that ring when I was in high school for a dance event, the 24/7 care she gave my grandpa when he was on dialysis after thinking she wasn’t capable of providing it, the ring she wore when she gave birth to my dad and my uncle, when she raised them and when she went out one day as a housewife and came back with a job she got against my grandpa’s wishes. The ring she wore when she was diagnosed with dementia. The ring she wore when she first met my mom…and when she first met me.
She was passing that on to me.
With those moments.
I thought about how different we are. The different generations we’ve been brought up in. She — married at 25 with the expectations of her to be a good housewife and mother. Me — a single and nasty woman at 30.
I thought about how much more I want her around for, what she may not be around for, how I’m not ready for this moment and also how grateful I am that we have today.
Though I won’t do anything with the ring other than treasure it, that moment put into perspective the responsibility I have — we all have — to love greatly. Love each other. Love what got us here. To love seriously and not settle (no matter what age). To love like our grandparents loved. To love the mess that is life. To love what makes us unique. Love everything that makes no sense and perfect sense at the same time. To love the idea that all of these small moments add up into a legacy that can know no bounds.
And that moment? It was one I’ll never forget.
Happy Birthday Grandma. I promise to take your love and pass it on.