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.