Old Wedding Rings: One Man’s Solution
by Albert W. Brown
A little more than 60 years ago, Marjorie and I were married. I was a student on the G.I. Bill. She had worked only a few months since completing college. We were dirt poor. We took some money out of our meager savings and the grocery fund to buy two wedding rings. These rings brought us both warmth and comfort for the more than three score years together.
During these years, we seldom, if ever, thought about what might happen to wedding bands when earthly relationships ended. We had seen wedding bands in estate sales, in boxes of mixed jewelry, hidden among knickknacks in yard sales, and in stores that purchase old gold jewelry. Sometimes we saw them in pawn shops. We never thought, however, about what might happen to those symbols of our relationship which meant so much to us over the years.
A few months ago, I watched the hospice attendant remove the wedding band from my wife's finger. Both of us had agreed to loan our bodies for a short time to a local medical center for study and research by medical students. After this period, the bodies were destined for a crematorium with the ashes returned to our family for internment at the columbarium in our church.
Even if cremation had not been directed, it seemed inappropriate to allow the wedding bands to lie hidden, probably forever, beneath some grassy meadow unseen, unattended, and unloved. We recognized that these objects, just like spring flowers, assorted trees, and all the wonders of nature, are "memorials” to our ancestors. I was reluctant to end our earthly presence with such finality.
Weeks and then months went by. I looked at my ring and turned it slowly over on my finger. I wondered what was really appropriate for it, its future, and the future of both rings together in the life of our family.
We had been totally unprepared for this stage of dealing with the memories and meaning of our life together. I discussed this with our children, grandchildren, and friends. They seemed puzzled or, at least reluctant, to offer more than general comments. Among the suggestions were, of course, to have the rings resized or even cast to a single new ring.
One jeweler suggested that both be melted into a single nugget which could then be worn as a pendant and shared among the family. Most friends seemed perplexed by this challenge.
Heart-shaped pendants made from wedding bands is a way in which one BVA member has memorialized lifetime family relationships.
After more thought, evaluation, and various ideas, I decided to create heart-shaped pendants for each of our four surviving children. Even after adding a little more gold, each would still be largely composed of the two wedding bands that had meant much to us. These heart-shaped pendants would be engraved with the initials AWB-MHB and the dates 1946-2008, identifying the 62 years of our married life. Thus was created the “mobile memorials.”
These memorials can survive in the families of each of our children as they will, in turn, be passed on to each surviving generation. They will be identifiable by the initials and the dates. They may become lasting "memorials” that can be worn and, hopefully, cherished through generations wherever and whenever they exist. They will hopefully be passed on together with knowledge and appreciation of ancestors who cultivated prolonged and loving relationships.
These four “memorials” bring comfort and closure for me. Perhaps this is a solution that will interest other married couples who will face this dilemma at some time in their lives.
Albert W. Brown is a BVA life member from Stow, New York. He is a World War II veteran of the Marine Corps, having served during 1942-45. He recently became legally blind as a result of macular degeneration.