A cousin mentioned recently that her daughter had become engaged at Christmas and it reminded me of the year that Bopa proposed to me also at Christmas. He was such a clever man and had a wicked sense of humor. I think my children probably know the story but I don’t think my grandchildren do so I thought I would share it for them.
All those many years ago Bopa and I had been seeing each other for about two years and we had been talking very seriously about marriage that autumn before Christmas. As you might guess I was expecting something special and rather small for my Christmas gift from him. But, no, my gift from Bopa was a Jackson Pollock jigsaw puzzle.
“Aren’t you going to put the puzzle together?” He asked innocently.
He made me put it together mostly by myself with just a little help from him and although it was a 350 piece puzzle not 1,000 pieces it still took some time to do because as you can see from the picture above Jackson Pollock is not known for painting anything except splashes and drips, no real design as a guide. I was probably grumbling and mumbling as I worked on it but I do like puzzles quickly becoming wrapped up in the task and forgetting to be cranky. When the puzzle was all put together Bopa instructed me to turn it over. That was also not easy to do because the pieces tended to fall out and that meant additional putting together time.
On the reverse side of the puzzle was a message telling me where to look for my “real” present. By this time I think Bopa was almost laughing out loud. After much searching I found a tiny white box tied on the Christmas tree way inside the branches and hard to find, of course. And yes, it did have what was to become his traditional signature mark of a knotted red avalanche cord tied around the box. When I opened the box there was a beautiful engagement ring. He had chosen the stone first and then gone to a local jewelery artist to have a ring custom designed and made. The ring was sitting there so prettily but it had a fairly long string attached to it.
“What is that string for?” I asked him.
“Well, the ring is yours,” he smiled, “but there is a string attached as you noticed. The string means you have to marry me to keep the ring.” His eyes were twinkling again because he knew I really wanted that pretty ring and hopefully wanted him too and would say yes.
He later said he was glad I persevered and didn’t give up because marriage is or can be hard work. He was trying to show me that really good things do not always come easily and that the end result (reward) was worth the effort. It was indeed. We had a long marriage full of love, laughter and companionship. As you can see the lesson stuck with me as I kept the puzzle all these years and still remember the event with fondness but also a bit of frustration.
I was going to try and put it together again and flip it over so the message could be read but after looking at the pieces I noticed that the writing on the reverse seems to have faded over time. Unfortunately it is no longer legible. But I do still have and wear the ring--
At the time, and even now, I think, it is customary to give a diamond but I did not want a diamond so the stone he chose was a moonstone. The original wedding band is yellow gold designed and made by the same jeweler. Many years later he did give me a diamond solitaire for Christmas. He said I was his sun, moon and stars and each of the three rings represented one of those things. He was not only clever but romantic as well.