Nov 2008

Full Circle


“Don’t take it off!”

Anna Maria and la Nonna cried out in unison, making me jump, then freeze, with my hand on the wedding ring I was just about to slide off my finger to give them a closer look.

“Why not? ”

We were at the kitchen table, two years ago and two days after our dreamy, chaotic, white and gold wedding. My brand new husband Luciano had gone into town and I had gone next door to sit a spell in the kitchen, now that I had attained
Signora status.

“The ring is protecting Luciano,” Anna Maria explained. “He is not here, right? If you take it off, he will be defenseless.” La Nonna nodded in agreement. Both women wore their rings, Anna Maria protecting Giancarlo on his bike ride and la Nonna for the first time in years for the occasion of our wedding. Though her husband died over forty years ago, she did not want anyone to think she was an old maid. So her ring, put away because it would not stay on her shrinking finger, was duct taped back on.

I had thought for a moment of all the years Luciano had made it without my protection, but I liked the idea and left the ring where it was, a little band of flecked white gold that now seemed to possess amazing power.

Now, two years later, it came as a particular shock when I learned that Anna Maria had lost her wedding ring. The simple gold inscribed
Giancarlo 1964 never left her finger except when she washed her hands, so we were baffled that it was not on the sink when we got home from the corn festival last week. We searched Luciano’s car and the kitchen with no luck. Giancarlo thought that it had dropped off in the corn tent, so they drove back to Lovadina to inquire after a lost and found. On hearing all this, my heart sunk. How on earth could something like that be found after an entire night of corn gorging, kids running about, tractor pulls and more gorging? And how can Giancarlo walk around without his protection?

Giancarlo, knowing how things work, went immediately to the
perpetua, or priest’s housekeeper, at the village church. She, as usual, knows everything that is going on in town and while she could not remember the event organizer’s name, she wrote down their phone number and names in case the ring was found. Watching the little woman write down their information on a scrap of paper, Anna Maria was overwhelmed with despair and sadly went into the local jewelry shop the next day to order another gold band.

In the warm afternoon I worked cutting away the dried branches of the long dead cardinal creeper, a climbing flower that I had only seen as a seedling and now as a corpse. It had its heyday apparently in July and August when I was away, but Giancarlo had expressed his admiration. He came up to me as I clipped.

“You know, I was working in the garden one day, years ago, wearing a pair of work gloves which I threw away when I finished because they were so old. Later I realized that my ring was no longer on my finger. I looked for those gloves, but they were gone, picked up by the trash collectors. Six months later I was digging in the garden and the shovel hit something. What I thought was a small stone went flying, but when I picked it up, I saw that it was my ring! It had spent the whole fall and winter in the dirt. Imagine that!”

I agreed that it was a great story and from it I could deduce two things: he had not given up hope with Anna Maria’s ring and that he had not rushed out to replace his. He is not the superstitious sort.

In the spirit of coming clean, I told my ring story at lunch. Only months after getting married, I had gone to get my hair done. While sitting in the chair, with my hair stewing in some beauty producing chemical, I looked down at my hands and saw with horror that they were bare. My mind raced, retracing my steps…had I put my rings on that morning? Yes! I remember having them in the car where I put on hand lotion…. I stood up, only to bump my head on the hot, humming hood of the dryer. I fidgeted until the timer went off and then explained that I had to go out to the car for a moment. With hair up in clips and what could only be called a plastic bag, I ran out to the parking lot. There, glittering among the gravel in the morning sun, were my wedding ring and diamond engagement ring. Feeling like I had just dodged a bullet, I slipped them back on my finger…and told no one until that moment.

Everyone nodded in appreciation now.

“And you, Luciano? Have you ever lost or almost lost your ring? ”

He thought for a moment, looking out into the distance.

“Ok, yes. ”

I sat up with interest. This ought to be good. Luciano loses nothing. Is it possible, after all, that he is human?

“Once, while I was loading the washing machine, I noticed that my ring was not on my finger.”

“You had accidentally left it in a pair of pants which were at that moment locked inside the washing machine for the entire cycle!” I sang out, delighted.

“Well, no. I checked the pockets of the pants that I was about to toss in and there it was. I always check before, Serena”

“That’s not much of a story, is it?” I grumbled. What a let down. He
is perfect.

The very day that Anna Maria ordered her replacement ring they got a call from the event organizer. Not only had the perpetua tracked him down and transferred the information, but they
had found her ring! It had been recovered by one of the children who had been roped into working as servers for the community and, in clearing our table, found it among the used paper plates, plastic utensils and chewed ribs. Incredible. She turned it in to the organizer along with a pair of glasses and a blue cardigan. A grateful Anna Maria offered to pay some money to the organizer when she went to pick it up.

“No need to do that, Signora, just be sure to come to our festival next year.” Anna Maria solemnly agreed.

She then went directly to cancel the new order with the jeweler, who griped little saying it was a good thing that it had not yet been engraved, but took Anna Maria’s recovered ring to make it a little smaller. Luciano says she should use her credit there to buy a pair of earrings in the shape of corn on the cob, but Anna Maria, ever the practical woman, said, “I have plenty of earrings and only two ears.” She wears her safely snug and newly polished 44 year old ring with a new sense of satisfaction and responsibility. Now Giancarlo can go off on his bicycle to Mareno. She’s got his back.

am ring