Sunday, April 6, 2008
Red is my color—always has been. Are we born loving a color? Is it our innate personality that draws us to a color that speaks to us? Red coded personalities are supposed to be the "power wielders." Is that me? Probably. My grandson Michael loves red too. If you see his schoolwork or coloring books everything is done in red. Michael only needs one crayon in his box...me too. Because I love red I was drawn to my grandmothers ruby wedding ring. She didn’t wear it by the time I was exploring her jewelry box –trying on her precious little trinkets. Its red sparkling vibrancy danced on my finger on many occasions.
"Someday when I get married I want a ruby too." I said it often enough and finally to the right person. Mike and I had been dating for 2 years when he gave me the ruby—just the ruby—in a little box with a poem. He was home for spring break from Stanford graduate school. I was teaching school in Grantsville. He had scoured the bay area for just the right ruby and it was heart stopping beautiful to me. As I got to know Mike as my partner I understood that looking for the ruby was an analyst’s dream--kind of like looking for a wife. He just wasn’t sure if she was the right shade of red...but then that is another story. His analyst did finally pick a wife and a ruby for her. She would pick a setting for the gem.
The poem is filled with memories. Some only he and I understand. We were astronomers together then. Mars the red star and Scorpio my sign became a metaphor for us:
Of Gold and Crimson
By Mike Anderson
It was before they fell-
The yellow, rust, and reddened sands
Of nature’s hourglass.
The golden lamp of day had fled,
Altair was still our friend,
High upon the night
Above the scan of watchful eyes.
The wonder of the sky was Mars
With Antares of Scorpio;
Both lit by crimson flame
That perhaps kindled a spark within us.
But Orion became impatient
And stretched upon the horizon.
As he did the pale leaves blushed
And longed to touch the Earth.
Then San Francisco colors—
Cable car doors
And neon signs
And reddened eyes—upon our parting.
But soon the brightness of Sirius
Overcame the blue of winter.
And with it were Santa Clause suits,
Crimson Christmas tree lights,
And honey popcorn balls with bright red ribbons.
Striped ski sweaters,
And burgundy clad, little choir boys
With golden hair
No tears upon the season.
The yellow sandstone of Stanford Quad
With thatched roofs of red,
The golden, snow-covered wheat of Grantsville plains,
Are not faded by winter nor years.
So take those colored images implanted in the past,
Merge them in the mind;
Enfold the Ruby planet,
Imbed it in the golden ring of Saturn,
And place it on your hand.
For the next 25 years I never took the ring off my hand except for a few times I didn’t really plan. The brushed gold setting I chose was unique as the wedding band encircled the stone just like the golden ring of Saturn. The ruby was enthroned up high with four prongs that turned out to be my nemesis. In 25 years I lost the stone 3 times and once I lost the ring. Nothing other than divine providence helped me find the stone and ring on these dreadful occasions. Here are the stories:
1. We were living in Utah and skiing again after 10 years of living in places and in situations that made it difficult. Mike and I had gone to a ski sale and bought me a new pair of boots. When I arrived home and tried them on again I realized that the two boots were different sizes. The next day I loaded Ian, who was about a year, into the car seat of our VW van and drove to the ski shop on Wasatch Blvd. I lifted Ian out of the seat and went into the shop and traded the boot. While I was in there I noticed that the ruby was missing from the setting. I was sick and stressed almost beyond emotional control. I started to pray silently. "Where could I have lost it? Please God don’t let me lose this symbol of our love." When I arrived back at the car I was calm. Something told me to look under the car. I put Ian in the car seat and got on my knees to search. I could see the stone, a small glimmer in the dirt about a foot in. I most likely scraped the stone on the door jam getting Ian out and it bounced under the car. I sobbed in gratitude.
2. I popped the stone off the setting when getting into the back seat of a car once. The miracle was that this time I noticed when it happened and was able to find it with some intense searching. The Lord was with me again.
3. The third time I lost the stone in my bedroom. I can’t remember how it happened but I knew it was somewhere in the deep rust shag carpet. A red stone in rust carpet is the preverbal "needle in a haystack". I combed the carpet on my hands and knees with my fingers for hours crying and praying. Then I got the idea to put a nylon sock over the end of the hose of the vacuum cleaner and run it around the places I thought it might be. Miracle of miracles it got sucked into my trap. This time I was afraid my luck had run out so I took the ring to a jeweler and asked him if we could reset it so that the prongs would hold it more securely. He made the 4 prongs into 6 and lowered its stance. It wasn’t nearly as pretty but I was sure I was pushing God at this point.
4. I volunteered to go to the cannery and do green beans. The cannery does not allow you to wear jewelry while you are working so I put my ring and my watch in the back pocket of my jeans. After awhile of sorting beans the movement of the conveyer belt was making me a little dizzy so I took a break and reached into my back pocket to remove my watch and check the time. As the beans move along all the bad looking ones get tossed on the floor so a mess builds up around your feet. I didn’t think about the things in my back pocket until we were in the car on the way home. My ring was missing. I most likely dumped it out when I removed my watch. I was sick and sure that there was no possible way that it would ever be found in the mass of bruised beans on the floor but I prayed anyway. I wasn’t about to limit God’s ability to perform another miracle. I called the cannery when I arrived home. Yes, someone had turned in a ring that fit my description. Come to find out my best friend, Dawn Johnson, had found it on the floor peaking out of the beans as her shift relieved ours. The miracle was that it hadn’t already been swept into the trash. I know God is aware of me and He understands the importance of this ring as a symbol of our love.
When my Grandmother died she gave her ruby to my mother who had it reset with two small diamonds and it graced her finger for several years. When my mother died I got the ruby. I wore it on occasion because it bonded me to the two most important women in my life. I decided to have this ruby appraised as I wondered how my grandfather afforded a one-carat stone for my grandmother when they got married. It turned out to be a zirconium type ruby not a natural one. The jeweler said it was a good stone. It has held up over the years with little wear and abrasion.
After altering the setting I wore my ring with no traumatic events for over 10 years. Then last year I was forced to remove it because the fingers on my hands are swollen with Rheumatoid Arthritis to the point that the rings no longer fit. My dilemma is, should I take them to be sized to fit the swollen fingers? I guess I keep hoping that someday my fingers will be normal again. But maybe it is that the ring is waiting in the jewelry box for a little girl to try it on and dream dreams of red sparkly things.