Sunday, December 12, 2010

A ring - a symbol of young love and a symbol of enduring love

My daughter was the first and only grand child in my in-laws family for the first four years of her life, until her little sister Maya was born. Needless to say, Nadia was the apple of everyone's eyes during those years. For her grandmother Luella, Nadia was even more special because Mom had four boys and she was thrilled to have a little girl in her life. A special bond developed instantly. That bond is even stronger now, eighteen years later.

Every Christmas, since Nadia has been seven years old, she and gramma spend an afternoon Christmas shopping together. Over the years, many traditions have evolved around this yearly event. For example, there is always a stop at the Cinnabon shop for a decadent cinnamon roll (that tradition is so ingrained that where they do their shopping is determined by whether or not that shopping centre has a Cinnabon store)! Nadia and gramma cap off their day of shopping by going out for supper at a restaurant. After the meal, they come back home and hide in Nadia's room to wrap all the gifts before maman sneaks a peek... (I have a bad reputation as someone who can't wait until Christmas to find out what she got, which I have overplayed over the years because the girls get such a kick out of it. One year, the girls rigged some of their "spy gear" around the Christmas gifts stash and an alarm would ring every time I would go near it. They laughed so hard thinking that they had outsmarted their mom. I would go near the stash on purpose so that they could "catch me in the act")

Last year was a sad year for all of us. Mom was battling cancer and having chemo treatments which left her weak and ill. For the first time in ten years, gramma could not go Christmas shopping with Nadia. So I took Nadia shopping for an afternoon and drove her over to gramma's house with her stash of newly bought presents, wrapping paper and of course, cinnamon buns from Cinnabon. I left Nadia with her gramma for a couple of hours of quality time for a modified annual Christmas tradition.

This year, mom is much healthier so the Christmas shopping extravaganza was back on. Nadia and gramma went shopping yesterday afternoon and came back home tired but happy with their purchases. Gramma remarks at how every year she notices how their conversations change. When Nadia was a little girl she talked about her friends at school and her favourite toys. This year, much of their conversation centered on Nadia's boyfriend and her love life. Nadia and her boyfriend will celebrate one year together this January. Nadia is in love and wanted to buy something extra special for her boyfriend this Christmas, a gold ring. Nadia and her gramma went from one jewellery shop to another until they found the best deal. Gramma will always be part of Nadia's story of "the day I got my boyfriend a ring". Nadia and her grandmother have a privileged relationship. How many young adults to do you know that would spend hours with their grandparent sharing their feelings, happy and sad, and bring them into their most intimate world?

A ring was also at the centre of a celebration last night. Instead of going out for supper at a restaurant like they usually do, I invited Nadia and gramma back to our house for a festive meal. Just to set the context, last October 8th, Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Mom did not want a big celebration and so the important milestone passed very quietly. Around that same time, I had noticed that Mom was not wearing her wedding ring and asked her about it. She said that the ring was broken and she had to put it away so that it would not get damaged any further. I asked her if I could have the ring repaired for her as a gift for their 50th wedding anniversary.

During supper last night we toasted Mom and Dad on their fifty years of married life and I gave her back the ring that a talented jeweller had brought back to its original beauty. She was touched. We were all touched when she slipped the ring back on her finger and told us the story of how she proposed to Dad. Dad's Alzheimer is slowly erasing his memories. He did not remember that story but his eyes still shone with love for his wife as she took us all down for a walk down memory lane.

Mom and Dad have collected over fifty years of memories together. Those stories will endure and still be told at family gatherings for many years to come. New stories are being created with the new generation. The Christmas shopping tradition has generated many happy memories for Nadia and gramma. And those stories will also be told. Time spent with loved ones and the memories they create is timeless...

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