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In tribute to an unmet great grandmother

Updated on July 8, 2014

The amethyst ring

Photographed at the National Writing Project's Appleseed Writing in 2013.
Photographed at the National Writing Project's Appleseed Writing in 2013. | Source

When I first began this writing, I asked my grandmother for more details, she said my memory was faulty and asked why I didn't read the letter accompanying the

I never met Marie Wittenberg, the French-German owner of the amethyst ring. C. knew her briefly for nine short months, but left alone by a grieving father and husband, the nine-month old baby was never formally introduced to Marie. Marie died of consumption, the more literary term for tuberculosis. R. was unable to care for a baby and left C. with relatives for a dozen years.

Grandmother C., “Grammy”, did not know much of her mother’s life before her death. When a young granddaughter asked, no relative sources stepped forth to inform. Great-Grandfather R. never wanted to remember, so I learned more of C.’s life, growing up on a farm with cousins and chores, making her own memories to replace those she would never have of her mother, nor of her father. She married young, feeling marriage was a duty. She had an obligatory daughter, my mother, B. My mother remembers a conversation of her youth. Grandfather A., “Poppy”, wanted five kids, but C. admitted “I never wanted to have children, but it was expected.” A lack of a mother, an absentee father, shaped her views and a regimental coldness was her maternal norm. Her stoic resolve blinded her to the possibilities.

My mother tells me Marie was a pilot, one of the first female pilots in New Jersey. To her, the possibilities must have been as high as the clouds.

As a child, I heard one story about Marie. Her parents gifted each child’s entrance into adulthood with $50 to spend. At 18, Marie’s eyes were caught by a beautiful oval cut amethyst ring set in a filigree white-gold setting. She spent all of her money on that ring. It is rather ostentatiously large and looks like costume jewelry, but it’s genuine. And to Marie, it represented the endless possibilities of a future filled with romance, marriage, children, and hope. The sky wouldn’t limit her possibilities.

Marie died three years later, nine months after giving birth to her daughter. Grammy kept that ring, closing it in a drawer of suppressed emotions. The ring was not passed on to her daughter, but hoarded away as she stifled her own possibilities. Somehow in hoarding and passing on jewelry, bitterness took root burying further C.’s eyes to the possibilities.

And then something happened. Two grandchildren arrived with bustling energy and boundless inquisitionary delight. Unplanned, they began to chip away at her wall of ice to create a grandmother not so uptight. These young ones, a boy and a girl, intrigued her to the possibilities for love in the world.

Grammy bequeathed to me that amethyst ring the February month when I turned sixteen. She explained it was more than a birthstone or jewelry and shared with me that one beloved story. “My mother bought that ring and now I give it to you.” This amethyst ring will never be sold. It is more than a ring, more expensive than gold. It represents young dreams, family, grief, and hope, but most importantly, the possibilities in life. The possibilities to change, to grow, and to learn to love.

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    • DaisysJourney profile image
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      DaisysJourney 3 years ago from Midwest, USA

      What a creative girl! I love the colorful pictures and different sides to her personality. :)

    • Doris Dancy profile image

      Doris H. Dancy 3 years ago from Yorktown, Virginia

      Daisy ~ You make me miss teaching. I did something similar to that once in a lesson plan. My students had to bring in an object that they felt represented the essence of them. There was one object that I will never forget. This girl brought in a book (hard cover and black) which she said represented a cursory viewing of her if you didn't really know her. At that level, she said that she seemed very plain. Then she opened the book, and it was filled with a variety of colorful pictures of numerous different subjects. She explained in detail how she had so many different sides to her personality…so many different talents and interests that one would only know by knowing her better. That was quite an interesting assignment. Students brought in some very unique objects and their explanations were quite interesting. Let me know how your assignment goes on Friday. I can tell that you are an awesome teacher.

    • DaisysJourney profile image
      Author

      DaisysJourney 3 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Thank you so much, Doris. I wish I had been given the opportunity to meet my great-grandmother and know her adventurous spirit in person. I had my students do this similar activity 2 weeks ago where they reflected on a symbol that represented their hearts. They have been asking me to wear the ring, but I keep forgetting to wear purple! I think I will set a purple outfit out for Friday so I can model the ring during our Writers Workshop...:)

    • Doris Dancy profile image

      Doris H. Dancy 3 years ago from Yorktown, Virginia

      Wow! What an awesome tribute to one you never met in person , but lives still in the heart of a new generation. I love your writing style…so smooth and seamless. I absolutely enjoyed the entire piece, but read, at least, three times the lovely phrase "…they began to chip away at her wall of ice…." What profound and vivid imagery for the reader to see and feel as you do. The ring, provides the lasting symbolism that will enlighten generations to come of a lady who once knew the heartbeat of life in a different way.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image

      ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE 3 years ago from KOLKATA

      Very nice tribute to a great grand mother judiciously purchasing of all gift items a genuine amethyst ring representing a very happy future with endless possibilities. Thank very much for sharing.

    • DaisysJourney profile image
      Author

      DaisysJourney 3 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Thank you, Peggy.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a touching story as to how you acquired that very special ring. I know that you cherish it for the history, memories and story of unending possibilities open to all of us while alive. Up, beautiful and interesting votes. Will share with my followers. You have a gift of writing!