For no other reason than she wanted to, my mother bestowed upon me, and each of my sisters, a piece of her dead mother’s jewelry at a family dinner one night. There was a strand of pearls, a sapphire ring, a gold tennis bracelet. But I got the grand prize – Nanny’s engagement ring. Not only was it a beautiful diamond, but it went right to the place in my heart where my beloved grandmother still lived.
Following the presentation the usual chaos and commotion ensued. The four of us sisters were all agog, ogling and coveting each other’s family jewels.
“What if I lose it?” I asked, kiddingly.
“You better not lose it,” my mother replied, not kiddingly.
The ring had a hinge that opened so it could slide over my grandmother’s arthritic knuckles. The hinge was broken so the ring couldn’t be worn until I got it repaired. So, I slipped the diamond back into the slot in its deep-blue velvet box and into my pocketbook, fiddling it with my fingers every few minutes.
Dinner over and giddy with my gift; my spouse and I headed off to my sister Nancy and her husband, Pete’s house, where we would spend the night. I placed the ring on top of a high chest in our makeshift bedroom and went to sleep dreaming of my grandmother.
After showering the next morning, I peeked into the box, still beaming over my good fortune.
The bile rose.
The ring was gone.
I took it in my usual stride. I flipped out.
“WHERE IS MY RING?” I roared, reducing my four year-old niece, Olivia, to tears. Her younger brother Harley looked at me blankly, while Molly, my three year-old, shrugged and toddled off after her cousins. Max, still a babe in swaddling clothes, howled in the kitchen from his baby-blue bouncy chair.
I flung open drawers, crawled across floors, stripped beds and clutched my racing heart.
“You better not lose it,” ran like a tape recorder in my brain. “You better not lose it. You better not lose it.”
I didn’t lose it. Someone clearly took it.
I narrowed my eyes, my stomach still lurching and kept pounding away at the toddlers.
“Where is my ring? It didn’t just get up and walk away!” I bellowed.
I tried a new tactic. “Whoever finds my ring gets an ice cream cone! And candy! And a puppy!”
No one budged. Nor did any of them pay very much attention to me at all.
Meanwhile, to add to my angst, six month-old Max, still in his bouncy chair was becoming audibly more distressed. I screamed to my spouse as Max screamed louder. But alas, he was outside, patching the roof with Pete.
“Oh, stop!” I yelled at poor little Max.
He cried louder.
I felt bad. But not bad enough.
I continued on my heart-pounding pursuit through the house, opening closets I never knew existed, shaking out toys I’d never seen played with, cursing in tongues I never before spoke.
I picked up the kitchen phone and dialed my sister Emily.
“The ring is gone,” I screeched louder than Max.
“What do you mean, gone?”
“Gone. The box is empty.”
“Nancy stole it,” she said simply.
“You probably put it somewhere and forgot where you put it.”
“I wouldn’t have opened the box, taken the ring out and put it somewhere. I would have moved the whole box.”
“Did that crazy neighbor come over?”
“I don’t think so. I was in the shower.”
“Then one of the kids stole it.”
“They couldn’t have. It was up too high.”
“Well, that’s what you get for getting the best piece of jewelry.”
I slammed the phone down as the kitchen door slammed shut.
“Find your ring?” Pete asked nonchalantly.
“How did you know it was missing?” I asked, eyes narrowing.
“The whole neighborhood knows it’s missing,” he grinned.
Pete dried his hands and tossed the dish towel on the counter.
“Hot out there.”
I curled my lip.
“Oh, be quiet!” I yelled again at my poor little baby.
“I got him,” Pete said, lifting Max and tossing him into the air.
“Hey, look!’ Olivia squealed as she hovered over Max’s bouncy seat, Harley and Molly right by her side.
There, shining up at me like the North Star, was my diamond ring.
I snatched the ring, grabbed Olivia by the waist and spun her around with glee.
“I put it there!” she said proudly.
“You did not; I did!” Harley sang.
“Me, too!” Molly clapped.
Max stopped crying and my spouse, still up on the roof, never needed to know that I had forsaken our gem of a son all for a little bit of bling.