Kim Gray, thawing out in Baltimore.
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?
I don’t have such an object, but I think you’re making the wise choice about not giving it to your boy! Great story, Kim.
Thanks, Edith! Yes, I believe the ring’s best function is as a pretty bauble and should not be involved in any marriages.
The Irish do love a good story!
I have none from that side, but my family has a painting that belonged to my New Jersey great-grandmother (I have it now). It’s by a painter that her father would have known personally, so I always assumed he had it first. But once I asked my mother about it, and she told an entirely different story: it was from a “suitor” who courted my great-grandmother when she was a wealthy widow, and apparently knew her well enough to understand why the painting would mean something to her.
Always ask your relatives for their stories, and make sure you record them!
I love your story. It is important to ask your family about their stories. About five years ago my husband began video taping our family members while they looked through old photos. A few of them have passed over in the mean time and I am so glad we have these recordings.
On my fiftieth birthday, my mother gave me a diamond Victorian dinner ring that my father’s father had given her on her fiftieth birthday. It was from his family, though that’s all we knew. As far as I know, it’s not cursed, but all I could think was, “What the heck am I going to do with this?” I wear the $32 jade engagement ring my husband gave me and that’s as fancy as it gets.
But my daughter always loved it, and many years ago, before there was a serious prospect on the horizon, she asked me if she ever got engaged, could she have it? I said yes and completely forgot about it. She didn’t and now she’s wearing it.
What goes around comes around. What was gaudy and clunky and Victorian to me is beautiful to her. (And now seeing it on her finger, I’ve softened toward it, too.)
When she gets married, she’ll carry the sixpence handed down to brides on my father’s mother’s side for at least five generations, though I doubt I’ll be able to persuade her to put it in her shoe.
I have my father’s wedding ring, and my own (no longer in use). I plan to give one each to my sons when they’re ready. They can get them melted down and recrafted or whatever. My older son shares a name with his grandfather, Allan, so it’s a particularly sweet thought.
Aw! That is so sweet! I think I would only give my kids our family ring if I’m not particularly fond of their intended. Just joking. No I’m not!
I told Kim I thought it was interested she kept the ring on something that looks like a church. She told me on the phone that she had to keep retaking the picture of the ring because every one came out blurry. Her husband said maybe the ring didn’t like its cursed reputation.
This is true. The ring does scare me a bit!
I don’t have any cursed items or anything like that. I inherited my mother’s engagement ring when she died. When I got engaged to my husband he had the diamond reset for my engagement ring. When our oldest son got engaged, I gave him the ring and he had it reset for his bride. I love to see things passed down through generations.
Joyce, the same great-grandmother of mine took all the jewels she’d inherited and assembled them in one hideously ugly brooch–sort of a bouquet with stuff sprouting all over. When I got it from my mother, I deconstructed it, and used all the stones in other pieces: my sister and I each ended up with a solitaire, the little stones went into earrings for my daughter and me, and I still wear what was the central piece. Now we all share the family jewels!
I have always felt it was an honor to have some of the family jewels passed on to me. And, of course, I love the stories that go along with them.
I love family history and stories. I try to encourage people to tell them , at least to their children. History is getting lost in so many families.
My husband and I are both the ‘responsible’ ones in the family and have been intrusted with photos and stories,( not to be told to everyone!) and a few items. One is a silver soup spoon that is engraved in German, which says something like, “To my Godfather”. For whatever reason, my mother-in-law insisted that this proved that the family is in line for the Hapsburg throne,(albeit way down the line). If it’s cursed, that may explain our lack of luck and peace. We have a few family rings and a diamond pin that my husband gave to me as our first token of engagement.(A ring he had given to his mother which she took off and handed to him for me is the other). My parents’ marriage was a total disaster but my niece insisted on getting married with my mother’s wedding ring. So far, they have made it for 20-some years.
I love the story of your ring.May it become a happy piece.
Tonette, I totally agree with you. So many stories are lost along the way. I remember nearly every story my grandmother and aunts told me, but still I wish I’d paid closer attention.
Reblogged this on F4l ~ FLECK.
No cursed objects in my family, that I know of. Which I guess I should be happy about. I agree–don’t give this ring to your son. Maybe you could have it cleansed or exorcised, though 🙂
Maybe I will have it blessed. Good idea Susannah!
Comments are closed.