I was sitting by my mother at the table when she gently took my hand and held it up for both of us to see the gold band on my middle finger of my right hand. It was that wide, soft shiny gold band that had caught her eyes and immediately brought tears to them and brought tears to my own when she said almost in a whisper and with astonishment, “You’re wearing dad’s ring?” “Absolutely!” I responded with pride.
That ring I wore connected me to her, her to thoughts of my dad, and me to my dad. I smiled and remembered my dad. It wasn’t a wedding ring that brought the tears to my mother’s eyes. The simple gold band was my dad’s and now I wear it without ceasing. I only ever remember it tucked away in his jewelry box. I had admired it as a young girl when I was coming from my parent’s bathroom into their bedroom and would pass by their dresser – and dad’s jewelry box atop the dresser.
My dad had kept it all those years because it had been a gift given of respect to my dad when he was in the military from a group of Korean men whom he had shown respect. A gift of thanks to my dad when he left his tour in Korea for working faithfully alongside them. Later, I joined the military.
While I did not join the Army as my father had, joining the Air Force was a connection to my dad. When I called home to talk anything military, I talked to dad. I remember looking out in the audience when I stood at the podium giving my retirement speech after serving 20 years in the military and seeing my dad on the front row. His face was glowing. His eyes tearing. The look he had just for me was pride. That connection, that military connection, strengthened when I too, had a tour in Korea.
Just as my dad had spent a year in country. When my dad passed away, that gold ring, a simple piece of jewelry, was the one thing I’d hoped I would receive to remember my dad. I didn’t hesitate asking my mom if I could have dad’s gold band, the one he had received as a gift from Korea; my mother assured me it was mine to have and I wear it always. That gold band is my lasting connection to my dad.