My hands were covered in blood and manure.
The new little calf fought my offer of milk from the bottle. She swung her head and tugged at her rope. The mother hadn’t licked off the baby and the remains of birth, manure and hay covered the shivering body. I knew the warm colostrum that I was trying to fight down its throat would make the difference between living and dying.
I moved my left hand to pry open its mouth and my diamond winked at me from amidst the filth.
A lot of women take off their rings to do dirty work. I did for the first few months of my marriage. There was a spot on my window sill that I would drop the shiny diamond and leave it safe until my hands were clean once again.
One day I went to get it and couldn’t find it. My heart skipped two beats. I started pulling things apart when I heard a chuckle behind me. I spun around and my mischievous husband’s gaze met mine. He dropped to one knee and proposed again.
“Why did you have it off?” He asked after I had once again accepted and the ring was back where it belonged.
“I was kneading bread dough,” I indicated the loaves now rising on the back of the woodstove.
“No need for that,” He kissed my cheek, “I bought it for you so it could be worn. Not protected.”
After that day, the only time it left my finger was while I was standing in Zales, waiting for it to be cleaned. The moment it was handed back, I put it on again.
This morning in the barn, I was struck again with how out of place it looked. Smears of filth and a diamond that catches light and makes rainbows.
My ring is white gold. There are different types but mine is a yellow gold band dipped in a mixture that contains other metals to lighten the color.
I loved it when it was new. It shimmered.
But life has been rough on it. Years of filth and cleanings have left it dull. The last time I stopped for a cleaning the lady informed me, “You’ll want to send it to get dipped soon. The white gold coating is getting thin.” She picked up the ring and pointed, “See, right here. The real gold is showing through.”
I told my husband when I got home. He started smiling, “Good.”
“Good?” I questioned.
“Sure,” he pulled me into a hug, “it’s a lot more valuable to have a ring that shows wear than to have a shiny new one. Anyone can get a new one. Very few have theirs long enough for it to be worn.”
He had a point.
Then he laughed, nuzzling my hair a bit,“Besides, it’s the real gold that showing through. That’s the valuable stuff.”
Everything else of lesser value just fades away.
And what’s left is real.
Oh, God. Make me more concerned with what’s real than with what shimmers.