“Abbi!!! Is this your ring?!”
This was the caption on a photo of an old vintage ring that was sent to me on Whatsapp by one of my girlfriends last night. The ring appeared to be astonishingly similar to mine, almost as if it was made by the same jeweler. The photo was followed by a link that read: Auschwitz Museum discovers double bottom cup with a ring hidden inside.
This news article gave me goosebumps, as the ring and the story is very similar to that of my engagement ring. I immediately sent the link to my mother-in-law, Teresa, who shared the story of my ring on her facebook page this morning.
“My mother in law smuggled a very similar ring out of Poland during the war, not in a tin mug, but secreted in the backing of a small mirror, given to her for safe keeping as it was felt that a child carrying something like that would be unlikely to arouse suspicion. She was deported, along with her parents from Eastern Poland to Siberia by the Russians not long after the outbreak of the war. She gave the ring to my son on his engagement and we had it repaired and restored and he presented it to his fiancée when she arrived in England last winter. The ring itself is lovely, but it is the story behind it that makes it truly remarkable!”
The day that Andrew gave me the ring and told me its story, I was in tears. It was a wonderful moment that was made official by something truly special. Not only was it a gorgeous heirloom, I was also touched by the story behind it. It is such an honor to be given such a personal and important part of his family history.
One of my friends asked me, however, about whether it makes me sad to wear something that has seen some very dark and painful times.
When I had the chance to talk to Andrew’s babcia (grandmother) about the ring, she wasn’t even able to finish a sentence before she broke down in tears. As she cried, she clasped my hand with the ring on it in hers and I didn’t know why, but it made me cry as well. It was an overwhelming emotion of sadness and gratitude. We simply sat in tears and silence, holding hands. I didn’t really need her to say more. This ring held so much of her past, and by giving it to her grandson, she is letting it live on to make more memories.
I will never be able to fully grasp the emotion that she personally felt towards this ring, but to me, while it has seen dark times, it is a beautiful reminder of so many things.
I am reminded of how much value something so small can hold. I am reminded of how a lifetime seems both incredibly long and short at the same time. I am reminded to stay hopeful for the future and fight on at times of adversity. I am reminded of how lucky my husband and I are, being able to live the life that we do thanks to the efforts of our parents and their parents and their parent’s parents. I am reminded that just as I am a mere steward of this ring for future generations, my husband and I now also have the responsibility towards our future children and their future children to keep the story alive and to make one of our own that is worth passing down. It is a reminder to live everyday to the fullest with gratitude, vigilance, and optimism.
Whoever owned the ring that has recently been discovered have felt it necessary to hide it for a purpose in the future. It may not have been the purpose that the person who kept it there originally planned, but the discovery of this ring and its story has served the great purpose of making people stop for a second to appreciate the lives they live and the past that brought them here. We can’t change the past but we can give it the respect and recognition that it so deserves, and use it to guide us into more enlightened days ahead.
What story will your most prized possessions hold for a future audience? What legacy do you want to leave your grandchildren? It is both scary and amazing to be reminded that we are a ripple in the pond that is mankind’s history. We need to pause to appreciate that.
If you want to read more about the ring: