Anniversary of twelves

On the twelfth day of December, back in the Great Depression, my grandparents were married. My father was born the following October in a tenant farmhouse.

That’s my grandmother’s wedding band in the photo. It’s not the one she received on her wedding day. That ring was thin; it wore “clean through,” Grandma said. Broke in half due to overuse, in the days when washing machines had wringers, in an era of canning and preserving, in the time of sharecropping cotton and looping tobacco.

This is Grandma’s replacement ring. She had her initials and Granddaddy’s engraved inside, along with their wedding date. A wide gold band, made to last.

It is my ring now. I wear it every day.

Often thinking of December 12th.

For it’s not the only anniversary.

Almost thirty years after my grandparents married, their youngest daughter got married. On the same day.

She was eighteen. A senior in high school.

Her husband, my uncle, was going to Vietnam.

I went to that wedding. In utero. I wasn’t born for another five months. My presence was obvious; my mother couldn’t fit into the dress she planned to wear. She had to rush out and buy a new one that day.

My young aunt mailed black-and-white baby pictures of me to my uncle on his tours of duty.

He brought these pictures back home with him.

Fast forward three decades…

On December 12th, exactly sixty years to the day of my grandparents’ wedding, my husband and I learn that we will have another child.

A second son. Our last child.

My grandparents lived to see him and know him. To tell him they loved him, like they always told me.

It is a day of remembrance for me, December 12th. A deep and quiet knowing, a dark-blue glittering gem that I carry in myself in the middle of the holiday season. Meaningful. Valuable. Priceless.

I think of the long-ago Decembers. Family gatherings, celebrations. Layers of blessing. A blanket unfolding again and again to encompass the next generation.

I am a grandparent now; the mantle is passed.

It is one comprised of faith. Of courage and commitment. In it lies the story of persevering against unknowable odds. The Depression. Vietnam. In it I find strength for living now. I know that what keeps us pressing on is having someone to press on for.

Numerologists might wax eloquent on the significance of the number twelve, in all its powerful associations. We mark our time by twelves on the clock, by months in the year…there are ancient connotations such as twelve Olympians, twelve disciples, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve of days of Christmas… twelves go on and on. Twelve is considered the number of perfection, cosmic order, completion. Just now I recall that our second son was born in our twelfth year of marriage. I am not a numerologist, only a poet contemplating patterns. Not a mathematician, just a wonderer. A believer. Pythagoras is said to have said: “There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.”

I sense a geometry in dates and a musicality to years…a song of life and the living of it. For me, this is the lesson of 12/12. There’s something of eternity in it.

Which makes perfect sense, if twelve is God’s number.

The song is love.


Many thanks to Two Writing Teachers and the Slice of Life Story Challenge community.
And to readers…you’re all part of the story and the song.

20 thoughts on “Anniversary of twelves

  1. What a beautiful slice. I enjoyed reading about your family history and the number twelve. I’m often amazed at patterns like that when I think back to the first people – in this case your grandparents – and the journey that they set off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our brains are pattern-seeking devices; I like to imagine the satisfaction a brain takes in noting things like this. Not to mention all the additional emotional layers of meaning… thanks so much for your response!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post has the feel and weight of a novel or a memoir that’s waiting to be born…perhaps on 12-12-24. That gives you a little time. I’ll be ready to read it.
    I was nervous about that early wedding. I’m so glad your uncle came home. I’m not a mathematician either, but I do enjoy numbers. This month of palindromes has been great, especially 12-02-2021, which is the same forward, backward and even upside down.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fran, your posts always reach in and squeeze my heart. I learned on Thursday that my great grandmother’s wedding band that had been a gift to me at my first wedding was stolen – along with several other sentimental pieces I’d planned to pass on to my children and grandchildren someday. I’m heartbroken, and I’ve fretted since finding out, but your story tells of love in the face of unknowing odds. I know the thief, who told me what she’d done before I discovered the crime, and I have forgiven – but the hurt is going to linger…..your thoughts remind me to focus on the song of love that can mend hearts and lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kim – I’m horrified by the loss of the ring, and that you know the thief…forgiveness. In the face of great hurt. Not once and done but living it every day…so very hard. to me, forgiveness is one of the greatest transformational forces in the universe. Right up there with love and gratitude. We cannot get through this life without them… my heart is broken reading about this yet I know your strength of spirit will prevail. You are mighty ❤


  4. This warmed my heart. Numbers sure are fun. My dad was born on 8/8 and my parents got married on 6/6. And incidentally I, there first born, was born perfect that’s 10/10😀
    Loved this, “I sense a geometry in dates and a musicality to years…a song of life and the living of it.” Thank you very much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 10/10 – perfect, indeed! So glad you enjoyed reading and that those lines resonated. There is a rhythm to life. Meaning in every beat of it, ever how hard, painful, vibrant, and curious it many be. Thank you for your words.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Numbers can be a fun thing to play around with. I like the symbolism it can bring. My husband’s mother died on 2/27. My first born was born at 2:27pm. I noticed it right away when they announced the time. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fascinating. And haunting. Our brains are pattern-seeking devices. I think a brain derives great satisfaction in finding patterns. Then there are all the emotional levels of meaning attached…


  6. Well, Fran.

    Here we are, with another post of yours where I can’t decide what I admire most.

    First of all, any time you bring mathematics into your workings of wonder, you KNOW I’m game, Fran! And here you do it with such reverence and delight. You play through magic and mysticism and math so fluently. This “dark-blue glittering gem.” This mantle (and ALL it entails) passed to the next generation. Your play of the twelves.

    I can’t help but think on the Jewish mystics, who would spend their lives immersed in the cosmology of numbers among written texts and the world around them. There is beauty in numbers and patterns, in they weave themselves into our lives.

    Thank you for this beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lainie, I am a latecomer to the mysterious beauty of numbers…due in part, I think, to the way math was taught when I was in school (alas). I savor this image of the Jewish mystics searching and finding the patterns in written texts and the world – perhaps in a leaf, certainly in the stars, maybe even in a teardrop. I was grown before I thought about pi being in the rainbow, for example, or understanding that it plays a part in patterns, in everything. Fascinating. Then there’s poetry, which I’ve loved all my life, and which naturally walks for all infinity arm-in-arm with mathematics.Could I have loved numbers all along and not realized?? The dark-blue gem: It’s a symbol (speaking of math!), a nod to my grandmother’s December birthstone, and to the winter night sky…most of all, just THANK YOU ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Carol, thank you for your most gracious and grace-filled thoughts on my posts – they are labors of love for me, born of deep gratitude. It means much to me that you find them meaningful. Wishing you and yours lovely and happy, happy New Year as well.


Leave a Reply to Fran Haley Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s