I remember when my mother got the ring. I must have been about 12 or 13 years old. It was the most beautiful piece of jewelry I thought I'd ever seen.
I loved the way the six stones represented me and my five siblings. I loved the way it was perfectly symmetrical, even though I usually prefer things at more random angles.
She always wears it on her right hand. Being Our Mother has always been how she defines herself.
Ofie, the oldest, is represented by the purple amethyst for her February birthday. That stone seemed fitting and regal for her as the First Born.
Helen's is the pearl. Hers is a June birthday. Different from the other gemstones. Round, polished and perfect – much like my sister.
Rudy was born in April and so the diamond is his stone. Befitting the only son in a family of Cuban women – the "diamond in the rough."
Miriam's stone is the peridot for August. The peridot is distinctive, unusual, beautiful. Again, a wonderful representation.
The two emeralds are for Alina and me. Both of us born in May. I love the way they were mounted on either end of the ring, bringing all the other stones into balance.
I have always loved this ring. I have always taken comfort in how it looks on her hand. I never thought to get one of my own, thinking that a setting of four stones somehow wouldn't work.
One day, she said, she would give it to me.
Last Friday, I checked my mom into the hospital. Today is Tuesday and she is there still. She has an infection in her body causing her a lot of grief. At 96, this could be life-threatening.
That night, while we were in the ER, she said, "Marta, take the ring."
"Why?" I asked, "Is it bothering you?"
"No. But, it's yours. Take it."
There was no emotion in her voice. It was just a statement.
I hesitated, but she insisted and I took it and put it on. She gave Amy Kikita her other ring, with the big, fat, cubic zirconia that she had always admired and that her grandmother had promised to her…..one day.
So, here I am trying to get used to the weight of The Mother Ring. I still love how beautiful and regal and different it looks.
But I think it may take me a very long time to get used to seeing it on my own hand.