Happy St. Paddy’s Day! I’ve spent the last three weeks fighting off the flu, and a respiratory infection which has kept me not only from the wonderful St. Patrick’s parade here in Baltimore, but from my annual scone and bread baking. This year I had to skip the party I usually host and settle for a smaller scale corned beef and cabbage dinner that’s cooking in my crock pot.
Like all good Irish households, the seventeenth of March was greatly celebrated in our home. My grandmother would bake bread and prepare a fabulous feast and my grandfather seemed to have an endless supply of plastic green hats and green and silver crowns that read “kiss me, I’m Irish” in swirly letters across the top. Dad sometimes brought us carnations dyed green from Lexington Market and Mom supplied all our green accessories. She had beads in every color. Mom had quite a selection of jewelry, including our family’s cursed ring. I was a teenager before I learned the history of the pretty engagement ring my mom wore.
The story goes that my grandmother’s uncle bought the ring for his sweetheart intending to propose, but was killed in France during the First World War before he had the opportunity. The ring then found its way into my great-grandmother’s clutches. I understand all the bad luck she incurred she brought upon herself. At some point she gave the ring to her son Al, who was a bandleader. He had fallen in love with a singer in his club and left his wife in favor of a relationship with this other woman. The singer had no intention of marrying my great uncle and left him heart broken.In his despair he took his own life, leaving the ring in a letter for my grandmother.
It stayed tucked away in her dresser for years until Dad met Mom. What ever possessed my grandmother or Dad to think using this ring was a good idea has died with them. Mom wore it for over twenty years until she and Dad divorced. Not so long ago Mom presented me with the ring. She knew I would care for it and keep it in our family. Occasionally I put it on and wear it out, but mostly it stays tucked away in my dresser.The ring has never brought me any bad luck, in fact I feel closer to all my family when I wear it. And though I don’t actually believe in curses, I don’t think I’ll give it to my son to give to his fiancé when the time comes. It’s best not to tempt fate.
Readers: Do you have a family item that has a, um, history?