|58 years ago today.|
Here you see Jim placing the ring on Winnie's finger. Father Twelmeyer, SJ, witnesses, as does Winnie's brother.
Here you see the ring:
But wait, that's two rings, right?
My sister Jane did not know the secret of Mom's "alliance" (*best pronounced the French way: AH-lee-AWWCE) ring. Organizing Mom's jewelry, she found the ring and put it aside. The light fell on a tiny hole, and as my sister investigated, the ring split apart. She was frantic. "I broke Mom's wedding ring!" she told me over the phone. It split into two rings, and I can't get it back together!
Only on my visit home did we fully probe the ring's secret--with the help of some jewelry dip and a little scrub-brush. The inscription you might expect on a wedding ring is within the ring itself. Not clear in the picture, it reads: 8-13-55 on one loop, and then TO W.A.S. FROM Y.B.A.T.
W.A.S. is clearly (to us, anyway), Winifred Ann Stiegler, but Dad's initials were J.T.F. And yet on many of the anniversary cards, birthday cards, and little cards you get in a bouquet of flowers (and Mom kept them all, believe me), the signature in Dad's handwriting was YBA. (He must have dropped the T somewhere down the years, but kept the essential part.)
The meaning of this endearment was never revealed to us--not for our lack of effort! My best guess is along the lines of "your biggest admirer" (admittedly, a "T" would have a hard time fitting this); do you have any ideas?
This summer, my siblings entrusted me with Mom's ring, which I am free to wear (since our community receives not a ring at profession, but a crucifix and the emblem of the Congregation). During my time in Rome, the ring is in safekeeping in Boston. But there's a proviso to my keeping the ring: it is only in my safekeeping. Upon my death, they want the "alliance" to return to the family.