Sunday, February 3, 2008

From Generation to Generation

I posted last week about the loss of my Grandma D. Her funeral was this past Friday. A previous pastor from her church, Pastor Krier, said some really nice things about Grandma and made the service very sweet. After the grave-side service my family all congregated at my grandparent's house for food and reminiscing. I was afraid it would be weird for us to all be there in their house, with their things, without....them. It was a little weird at first but it was actually really nice. Chris made a memorial DVD that contained a slideshow of pictures of my Grandma set to some of her favorite songs. We all watched it and shared stories and memories about her past.

At some point in the afternoon my father asked everyone to gather around and asked me to sit down. He then proceeded to tell me that my Grandmother's will stipulated that she be buried with a ring on her, but not which ring. He told me that they had decided to bury her in her anniversary ring because they felt that her rings should be passed on. He then presented me with my grandmother's rings.

As far as my family can figure, the story behind the rings is this:
Back in the 1920's Karl immigrated from Germany through Ellis Island to live in Charleston, South Carolina to work for his Uncle Gus who ran school that taught English to German migrants. Karl spoke High German, a dialect that his Uncle needed teachers for. Around the same time Elsie had immigrated from Germany to work as a nanny in Charleston, SC. Elsie happened to sign up for English classes at the school where Karl was helping to teach. Romance was in the air but due to the rough times, Karl had to scrimp and save to be able to buy Elsie a ring. He managed to succeed and in April of 1927 they were married. The picture to the left is them on what we think is their 25th anniversary.

Later that year Elsie and Karl had a son, John Karl (he went by Karl). In 1948 when Karl was 23 he went to a Christmas where he met an older woman, Doris. Later that week he went to his mother Elsie and told her that Doris was 'the one' and he was going to buy her a ring and make her his wife. Elsie's response was to take the rings off of her own hand and give them to her son, just like that! A week after he had met Doris, on January 2, 1950 he presented her with his mother's ring and asked for her hand. The picture to the right is of Doris and Karl on their wedding day, three months later in March of 1950.

After a couple of years of marriage Karl and Doris had the first of their four children, John Karl Jr - my Dad. When Doris passed away in January of 2008 she made it known that the family rings should go to her only granddaughter - me.

I can't begin to express how honored I am that my aunts and Dad chose to give them to me. Dad was telling me last night that on several occasions, my grandmother had told my aunts and my dad that she wanted me to have the rings - that is really special too - knowing that she wanted me to have them as well.

For the past seven years I've worn a ring on my right ring finger - the purpose of this ring is to remind me to never settle, in life or love and to persevere. I think that on occasion I will swap my ring out for the heirloom rings. They certainly have a story to tell...

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