In My Shoes: A golden moment for silver aniversary
By Beckey WatsonTwenty-five years is a long time to be married.
We had been dreaming of ways to celebrate our silver anniversary — a cruise, a trip abroad — but as we grew older, our family grew larger, our savings smaller, and a simpler plan evolved.
We would spend a weekend at a bed and breakfast. And we devised a sort of trivia game to review our years together and test our memories. This would be our gift, a walk down 25 years of memory lane.
So on our anniversary celebration weekend, we set out for our destination, the historic Henry Clay Inn in Ashland. We walked across the street from the inn to have dinner at the Iron Horse Restaurant. We ordered wine, then dinner, and after a toast to ourselves we started asking each other trivia questions about our life together. We took our time, each stumped on one or two, realizing that 25 years was indeed a long time. I finished asking all my questions, and he asked the last one.
"What is the longest I've ever been able to keep a secret?" he asked me.
"Five minutes!" I shot back quickly. (I'm married to a man who has given me a birthday present early because he couldn't wait after it arrived in the mail.)
But seeing his slightly hurt look, I amended my answer to 24 hours, thinking I was being generous.
"You're wrong," he said, "the answer is five years."
I was shocked and a bit unsettled. My mind raced. What could he have kept from me for five years?
He handed me a velvet pouch. Inside was the most beautiful diamond ring I had ever seen. And I had seen it once before.
It had been shortly after our 20th wedding anniversary. We went to the jewelers to pick up a watch that was being repaired. While waiting, my eye caught this lovely diamond ring. I gasped; I said it was just the kind of ring I would love were I the kind of wife that craved diamonds. The gold filigree setting was intricate, the five diamonds in a row were modest. It fit perfectly on my finger. It was on sale.
My husband tempted me to get it, but I gave him plenty of reasons to put it back in the case: We didn't have the extra money. Twenty is a great anniversary, but we never purchase gifts. Something that special should be saved for a silver or gold anniversary.
I can tell you honestly, after I took off that ring and gave it back to the sales clerk, it left my mind. I knew it wasn't meant to be. We left the jewelers with the repaired watch.
I would recall later that after arriving home, my husband went back out to run an errand. But I didn't know he did something much, much more.
He called the jewelers, and they agreed to help him with an extreme layaway program. He scrimped on lunches, used money from his birthday cards or an occasional bonus from work. He never charged a dime on a credit card. He paid it off, and the real challenge began. He put it in his sock drawer. For years!
He then carried the ring in his pocket as we set off on our silver anniversary weekend. And then he finally, finally , gave it to me at dinner.
Yes, I remembered the ring instantly. It fit perfectly on my hand. I still think it's the most beautiful and unique ring I've ever seen.
I sat there in the restaurant ignoring a perfectly good meal while his tale unfolded. I cried. He cried. I kept repeating over and over, "I can't believe you did that!"
I couldn't imagine that anyone would have the strength to keep such a secret from me, our parents and children, neighbors and co-workers for five years.
Our budget was never compromised, although he made many personal sacrifices to accomplish his goal. I didn't protest that he shouldn't have; I accepted it for the beautiful gift it was meant to be.
But the wonderment of what he had done for me was the true gift. My husband had managed to wrap up every example of our 25 years of marriage in the gift of the ring — commitment, perseverance, sacrifice, love and beauty.
It was more than a diamond ring. It was like holding his heart in the palm of my hand.
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