From the time of her marriage, my mother wore two thin gold circlets that served as her wedding band. After she died, my dad wore those rings on his pinky— and he was not a man for jewelry; about unostentatious as a New Yorker could get—but this was in memory of Mom. Before her passing, Dad had worn the ring given him by his parents at his Bar Mitzvah. That’s the ritual in the Jewish tradition that marks the entrance of a boy to manhood and welcomes him to participate fully in its observances. The ring had his initials WD for William Devens engraved in the gold and it originally held a small diamond that disappeared at some point, never to be replaced.
I inherited these bits of jewelry along with some other pieces, and they are—aside from my engagement ring, which is another bittersweet story—the most precious items I own. I wear the three together most days, fragments of memory wrought in gold, and think of them as talismans. I won’t fly, attend major meetings, or go to important doctors' appointments without them. I rub their surface for a blessing and am comforted by their warm glimmer in the flickering light of my parents’ memorial candles.