The Tragic Destruction of a Family Heirloom

    Here lie the remains of the ring that at one time brought memories of my grandmother and great-grandmother!  No longer a ring but only worn out gems—a golden band destroyed of its original form and beauty.  The dastardly culprit I can still see in my mind’s eye with a smug look on his face, confident that his defiant deed was justified.  He was a short, stout, balding man in his pin-stripe suit with jeweler’s lens in his hand.  “This ring cannot be repaired,” he said emphatically after my second plea for help.  To prove his point he pushed his thumb against the opal destroying the fragile setting.  I stood dumbfounded by his crassness.  If I hadn’t been so numb with disbelief, I probably would have done bodily harm to him.
        The opal from the ring was born in the form of a necklace given to my great-grandmother, Monique Comeau, by her husband Charles.  It is the only heirloom   in the family from her.  I don’t know when it came into the possession of her daughter, but Monique died in 1890 at age 48.  My grandmother, Marguerite Anne Comeau, was only ten years old at the time of her mother’s death.
        The ring took its comely shape when Marguerite, known by all as Annie, later sacrificed her ruby earrings and had them set on each side of the opal to form a delicate feminine gold band.  My mother, also a Margaret, cherished the ring when it came time for it to adorn her dainty hand.   By the time it was passed on to me, it was almost too fragile to wear.  Whenever I took occasion to wear it, I enjoyed the feeling of being a part of a long line of women named Margaret.  (Monique’s sister was also a Margaret).   Not realizing that I would see its demise, I took it to the jeweler for him to reinforce the prongs holding the well-worn gems hoping to extend its life.  Instead he brought it instantly to an end!   I felt that he should have been hung for murder—or at least rape.  When I dwell on it I still feel defiled.   The last time I dared look at the remains I sobbed in grief.  I miss the feel of its fragile gold band on my finger.  I miss the pride of wearing the symbolism of my family’s womanhood.

                                Margaret d'Aquin

{Post Script—This story was originally written in 1986 for a creative writing class.  The jewelry store massacre took place in Hammond, Louisiana in 1965 when we lived on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana College.  I rewrote it in May 2013 for a genealogy class project called “What kind of an ancestor am I?”  Its purpose was to leave legacy stories for our descendants.} 

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