Saturday, 6 February 2010
I was intending to start a new blog, and I thought it might be called 'Old Hand'.
Then I decided to resurrect 'Relatively Retiring' which hit the buffers nearly a year ago because of repeated attacks by gremlins, trolls, whatever the term is for people who may or may not have known me, but who decided to be malicious in any event.
This was a technically interesting time, because I have experience of writing professionally and am used to criticism. But in the past there was always an editor between me and my readers, and the recent attacks felt much more personal.
So here is the old hand anyway.
It has done a lot of things, as well as writing. It has comforted and controlled, cooked and cleaned, gardened and painted, lifted, carried, held and been held. It is looking the worse for wear, and the other one on the other side is, too. In fact the other one looks worse because it's scarred and arthritic.
It used to have rings, this old hand. It had an engagement ring with opals, which are said to be unlucky and sometimes were. But at other times they seemed quite lucky, so it all balanced out in the end. It had a wedding ring, which had to be cut off when the finger suddenly went blue.
Well, it was that or the finger.
The ring was enlarged, and then became too big so that it was lost - forever I thought. Then it turned up in the bottom of a handbag, along with the till receipts and the crumpled tissues.
I removed my rings during the time that I was nursing my husband at home. My hands were so frequently coated with antiseptic gel that I feared for the opals. I put the rings somewhere very safe, so safe that I didn't find them until several months after my husband's death.
It felt wrong to put them on again.
I was no longer married.
Perhaps a wedding ring should be called a marriage ring?
I haven't worn the rings again again since I found them, but this has caused a few comments among people of my generation (I'm 70).
For example, "I didn't ask about family, because I can see you're not married."
"I didn't realise you're a widow. You're not wearing a wedding ring."
Is there a protocol about removing rings when the marriage ends, by death or divorce?
What message does such a ring convey these days?
Is life easier for younger people who have deeply committed relationships without the branding of rings and ceremonies? Or is it harder?
So I trundle along, pondering the great mysteries of commitment and life and death, wondering if I've locked the back door, writing post-it notes for myself, missing those I love and see no longer.....an old, unadorned hand at most aspects of life by now.