Three Rings. Three Generations of Strong Women.
As a child I can remember my parents sending me and my siblings to my grandmother's home so that she could babysit us. When I became a teenager the tables had turned. My grandfather would ask me to stay with my grandmother when he left the house. We weren't worried about her starting a fire or anything dangerous. It was simply that as she got older, she started falling down more frequently, and could not get up without assistance. She would accidentally drop fragile items, such as glass or ceramic, and was unable to clean it up by herself.
It was often during one of these visits that my grandmother kept herself busy by cleaning out another one of her drawers. She always seemed to be tidying up the house when one of her grandchildren were around. We would often end up going home with a goody-bag of crucifixes and saint medallions to wear like a good little Catholic girl/boy should, fresh tomatoes from the garden (which Grandpa attended to since she no longer could), and various knickknacks. One visit she insisted on going through the top drawer of her vanity where she kept her jewelry. I didn't think much of it at first because she was always sifting through one of her drawers. This time she insisted I take some of the jewelry home with me. I was surprised by her request because the jewelry wasn't just a bunch of medallions, but included her engagement ring, a ring that belonged to her mother (my great-grandmother who died many years before I was born), and the front of an old pocket watch from 1921. My grandmother had stopped wearing her engagement ring many years before that day. After 63 years of marriage the band had worn through. These items seemed so personal compared to the usual knicknacks she gave me.
Most images of rings tend to be of wedding rings for the bride and groom on their wedding day. However, when I look at the rings which once belonged to my mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother, I don't think about their wedding day at all. I think about the times of joy and hardship those rings saw over the past century. I think about the three strong women who wore those rings as a reminder of commitment and the strength of family. The rings are not their legacy, but rather the memory of these women in the minds of their granddaughters and great-granddaughters. The photographs help remind me of the legacy I must carry on to the generations of women in my family who will come after me.
The people in the last photograph are as follows:
Upper right: circa ~1918 of the Stankiewicz Family (my great-grandparents, grandmother, and her siblings) a few years after immigrating to the United States from Poland. Upper left: My grandmother's wedding photo from 1936. Lower right: my parent's wedding photo from 1974.
A special thanks goes out to my mother, Paula Gugliotta, for being an avid genealogist and scrapbooker for all these years. I could not have done this portrait session of rings without her assistance.
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