“Things happen for a reason,” my sister, Bonnie, said.
“No they don’t,” I said. “Things just happen and we struggle to find meaning. And finally we find one and portray it as a sign that something Devine has charmed our lives.”
That little speech was said a few years before Bonnie’s death. It made me feel intellectually superior. After all, I was the one who left this stinking little burg forty years ago and got a college degree. I even teach those moronic dweebs called students. They don’t call me ‘Doctor’ Scroggins for nothing.
I’m finding it difficult to live with my brashness and ego these days. How could I be so insensitive and pugnacious to the sister who changed my diapers, for goodness sakes! I loved her as much as my mother.
There was this ring, expensive for it’s time. Merely a trinket by today’s standards She bought it for me when I graduated from high school.
“I don’t need another ring,” I said. “Do you want me going off to college looking like a Gypsy?”
She smiled, but I could tell my insolence hurt her, but she was one to never take offense or hold anything beyond the next blink of an eye.
“Rings mean something,” she said.
“They mean nothing,” I said. “They’re decoration.”
“It means something to me,” she said. “And some day it will mean something to you.”
“Than you wear it,” I said.
“You’ll need it someday,” she said. “You’ll need it when it’s least expected.”
Well there I was three years later, in college, and I hadn’t eaten in two days. I sold the ring to a jeweler. And it was a good thing. I bought a few much-needed groceries, paid my portion of the rent, and swore never to waste my money on frivolous youthful entrapments again. Most importantly the ring had finally come to serve the purpose for which it was intended.
Strangely, decades later I found myself in the very room Bonnie gave me that ring. It was only thee hours ago she was laid to rest. Already I’m missing her; her dull witted ramblings about her grandchildren, the weather, and her view of the world, but I loved her.
I was so out-of-place with my family filling the air with meaningless stories and remembrances; stories that have had their third go-around. I was ready to leave and get back to my world of inventive thought and engaging conversation. No more did I care to hear about hog and corn futures and the lowering water table. I was about to scream and beat my head against the wall.
I couldn’t wait for my wife and I to attend the next gathering of alumni friends and regal them with the events of this weekend. “Yes,” I would tell them. “Those people really exist and I escaped.”
I pulled my coat on, slung a scarf about my neck, pressed my hat tight on my head, and bid all a fond farewell.
I was in the car when Lisa, my niece – Bonnie’s oldest, came running from the house.
“Uncle Will, Uncle Will,” she called.
For a moment I was about to give way to tears. Everything about her reminded me of Bonnie from the voice to her waddling run.
I lowered the window.
“Uncle Will,” Lisa said. “I didn’t want ya to get away without givin’ this to ya.” She handed me an envelope. She leaned inside the car and gave me a tender kiss on the cheek. “That’s from Momma,” she said and smiled. “She said, not to let ya leave without a smooch.”
Lisa waddled back to the house. I opened the envelope. There was the ring. The exact ring. How she found it or came about it I don’t know, but I’m inclined to think my dear sister knew more about me than what she cared to reveal, after all she changed my diapers. It was obvious she knew of my condition during those bleak years and knew that the ring would be sold when times got tough. I suspect she held that ring dear for decades and was waiting for the right time to surprise me with it. It had the same engraving, “To Will from Sis.”
I smiled and tucked it away in my lapel pocket.
I was about to crush the envelope. I nearly overlooked a note. I pulled it out and opened it. “Now find some meaning to this you ass.”
I smiled, went back to the house, and shared a few stories about my Sis. The next day they had me milking cows.
I wear that ring now. It reminds me of the meaning to things, the farm from where I came, and the charm brought to my life by a boorish sister who waddled.