by Beth Ann Jedziniak
I received a catalog in the mail last week. As I thumbed through, I found a section with furry sweaters that I would never wear but yet I almost ordered one.
In the 1980s, my mom had the ugliest fake fur coat. It was off-white-ish with yellow and brown clumps of fake fur. It went just past her hips, and when buttoned all the way up, the collar rose up high on her neck. She strutted around in this hideous coat as though it were made of real fur — head held high, shoulders back, the girls proudly leading the way in their Maidenform bra.
I recently bought myself three new rings. The first was big and plastic, gaudy and green. The second was small and plastic and gaudy and green. And the third, plastic, gaudy, and green.
As a child, I had put a quarter in a gumball machine, opened the little metal door, and reached in to get my prize, a beautiful green ring that sparkled under the fluorescent lights.
I wore it proudly wherever I went – head held high, shoulders back, talking dramatically with my hands, my ring finger pointing the way.
But one day, as happens with most gumball toys, it broke. I had been so careful with it. But yet, there it was, in pieces. I was heartbroken.
We were visiting relatives in New Hampshire and all the adults were busy doing whatever adults do. I know they were busy because when I tried to say that my ring was broken, they said, “We’re busy right now.”
Everyone but my uncle; he said that he would fix it. He brought me up to his room, placed my broken ring on his night stand, and promised to fix it later. He never fixed my ring.
As an adult, whenever someone disappointed or hurt me, I’d think to myself, “I can fix my own ring.”
When I finally understood the origin of that thought, the search began. And ended in a little shop in New Hampshire where I found my third and final gaudy green ring. Something about finding it there – in New Hampshire – made it feel full circle. I was lost but now am found.
I now wonder if that fake fur coat represented more to my mother than just something to keep her warm on a cold day. It did make her spine straighten just a little when she put it on. Was she trying to get back something that she had lost as a child? Was she trying to fix something that was broken? What did she see in the mirror when she put on that coat?
I didn’t buy that furry sweater from the catalog last week. I just smiled and thought back to my mother and her coat. I know I can’t recapture a moment with her by wrapping myself in fake fur. I know this, and yet, I smile as my gaudy green ring catches the light.
Beth Ann Jedziniak has a passion for the written and spoken word. Her speech entitled, “My VaJourney” was recorded for Claim the Stage podcast. Previously, she was the founder of Operation Fat Monkey. Most evenings you will find her in her loft playing, writing, painting, and drinking copious amounts of tea.
Beth Ann Jedziniak has a passion for the written and spoken word. Her speech titled “My VaJourney” was recorded for Claim the Stage podcast and will be published in the forthcoming book SECRETS OF THE SISTERHOOD: 50 STORIES OF LOVE, TRUTH AND POWER due out in November of 2019. Most evenings you will find her in her loft playing, writing, painting, and drinking copious amounts of tea.