My story is a bit different from the usual outlandish gesture proposal. After dating my wife, Sammie, for a couple of years, I decided I wanted to marry her, and I started looking for rings, saving up money, and trying on the sly to figure out what her tastes in jewelry were. After a few months, I had decided on a jeweler to custom design a piece for me, but several bad things happened at once, the worst of which was that I lost my job. I had to scrap the ring, and I thought I would surely have to wait. To be honest, I was a relieved because I really didn’t think she would like the design. I had based it on a ring she had described to me, that her grandmother had been given by her late husband.
I had met her grandmother once, a feisty, redheaded woman who weighed about a hundred pounds soaking wet. I hadn’t noticed the ring then, but hoped to meet her again to get a better look at it, to get some idea of what to buy to propose to my wife.
When I thought I would have to give up my plans, Sammie called me one day crying. Her Memaw had been diagnosed with cancer, and she was going to rush to see her. I went with her for support, now unemployed and without responsibilities as well as money, not even thinking of the ring and the proposal.
The cancer took its toll on Memaw quickly, and within a week, she was bedridden. When we went to see her, she could only barely speak.
While at her house, I stayed behind one afternoon while Sammie and her father went to the store, and Memaw gave me a sly grin as they walked out.
Through motions and a few words, she directed me to get a box out of her dresser, an old checkbook case that had been stuffed with tissue paper.
I handed it to her, and without saying a word, she opened it, pulled out the layers of tissues, and revealed a beautiful, classic white gold and diamond engagement ring and wedding band.
I nodded politely, and told her how beautiful it was, thinking she was just being nostalgic.
I realized as she held it up for me to get a closer look, that this was the ring Sammie had liked so much. I took a close look at it, studying the filigree and the settings, thinking I could never find something so beautiful for her, much less afford it.
I looked up at Memaw’s face, and noticed she was crying, but had one of the biggest, brightest grins I had ever seen on her face.
I started to tell her again how beautiful I thought the ring was, when I felt her grabbing my hand, and with all the strength she had in what by then was about an eighty five pound body, she forced my hand open, and she placed the ring in my palm.
"Sammie," she said, still smiling as big as ever.
She died the next morning. I had never told her, or anyone, that I had planned to buy the ring or that I had planned to propose to Sammie.
Driving back north after the funeral, Sammie was telling stories about staying weekends with Memaw as a girl, and when she broke out crying, I pulled the car over.
I reached into my pocket, and pulled out the ring. It wasn’t the most romantic way to say it, but I handed her the ring and told her, "Memaw wanted us to get married. She gave this to me, for you."
I couldn’t have received a better blessing for marrying Sammie. As little as I knew of Memaw, and as little as she knew of me, I think she could see how much Sammie and I love each other.
I didn’t get on my knees, and I didn’t interrupt a baseball game, and I was really nervous and awkward about it, to be perfectly honest, but I would never have felt as right about it if it hadn’t been Memaw’s ring. Receiving that as a gift was one of the greatest honors I’ve ever been given. And thanks to her, we are still happily married after eight years. I just hope she can see, with pride, what her gift has helped build.
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