Saturday, May 14, 2011

To Ring or Not to Ring

Recently a few columns and Web posts have discussed whether or not a man should wear a wedding ring. I’ve never worn one, having made my definitive decision two months after our wedding.

Like some men have noted, I’m not much interested in jewelry. That includes necklaces, rings or wrist adornments other than watches. Trying to be a non-traditionalist and the fact my father didn’t wear one, I decided against a wedding ring 38 years ago.

My father wore a ring, which he received in 1932 for his religious school confirmation. The silver ring has his initials in gold and a small diamond that came from a stickpin his father received for being the president of South Side Hebrew Congregation. It contained no engraving in the inside. He wore it on his right hand. I don’t know why he didn’t have a wedding ring.

My grandmother and father at his wedding,
Sept. 3, 1946

Barely two months after our wedding, my father was rushed to St. Anne’s Hospital from his office after suffering a heart attack. Upon arriving after a 45-minute drive from the suburbs, I was informed he had passed away (“A Sudden Death in the Family,” December 2010). Shortly thereafter, John Weil, his partner’s son who had accompanied him in the ambulance, gave me an envelope with his personal effects. I immediately emptied the contents on to a table, a decision quickly regretted, for I should have waited to compose myself and prepare for the inevitable reaction. The larger objects tumbled out first – wallet, eyeglasses and probably keys – followed by his ring. The ring, however, didn’t simply drop on the table but rather rolled away at a rather rapid pace. It was still rolling when I slapped my hand down and scooped it up.

The Ring

Because he never took it off, the ring in my hand conveyed the blunt reality that he was dead. Despite contemplating this likely outcome during the drive, holding the ring sent a shock through my system. Instinctively, I put it on the fourth finger on my left hand (it was too small to get on my ring finger). With my limited knowledge of jewelry, I didn’t know the ring could be sized, which was done the following week. I’ve worn it ever since. A second fracture of my left ring finger (luckily I wasn’t wearing the ring either time or it would have been cut off in an emergency room) a few years ago caused me to wear the ring on my right hand for some time until the swelling subsided. 

Marisa and I, Florida, 1983

 Early on, I considered purchasing a wedding band. As silly as it may sound, I thought it would diminish the significance of this most valuable possession. Other than memories, I have only a pair of his cufflinks, formal stud set, 80-year-old Underwood typewriter and a handkerchief with his embroidered signature. The ring’s religious significance also seemingly transcends it being a gift for a 15-year-old boy and a keepsake for a not-so-devout son. I would wear only one ring, and this was it.

Union Prayer Book, presented by South Shore Temple on
my father's confirmation, June 12, 1932
My father wore the ring for almost 41 years; I've worn it for more than 38 years. This often causes me to think about many things, most notably the fragility of life. One such issue is not the one brought up in all of the discussions; you'll just have to trust me on that.

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