Gold Map

By Rose Ann Sinay

When we got married my husband slipped a gold ring on my finger. Our names were inscribed inside, conveniently, in case I should ever forget. It was the most emotional, important and identifiable piece of jewelry that I’d ever received.

There were other precious trinkets to mark the highlights in my life, but they didn’t appear exactly as I imagined.

Our first Christmas together, my husband bought me a gift that he put under the tree a week early. When he wasn’t around I picked the box up, shook it, un-taped it, re-taped it (too Polly-Anna to take a peek) and guessed at what was inside. I’d hoped for something silver or gold, but this package was way too big . . . unless, he’d put it inside a jewelry chest. I’d earmarked a page in a catalog, but didn’t think he’d paid any attention. Oh, he was clever!

Christmas morning I reached for that present first, tearing off the wrappings, anxious to see just how creative he had been. I held the open box in front of me. It was an iron–a steam iron. When he saw the raw disappointment on my face, he pointed to the aqua push button that could spray just the right amount of mist to power those wrinkles right out of his shirts – or my blouses. At that moment, I wanted to mist him right out of the room. My happy balloon began to leak.

On our tenth anniversary, he gave me a gold “iron” charm. Told you he was clever. It only took ten years.

And then, there was the diamond pendant he gave me to mark the birth of our son. Years later, it was stolen by the “pillowcase bandits” who had been casing the neighborhood and hit our house as soon as we left for vacation. It was an emotional loss, but I realized I had my real live gift looking me in the face every day, filling my life with love, laughter (and angst).

Over the years, I have built up quite a collection of gold and silver mementos. Chains with a swinging “MOM” hanging from it, “MOM” with a pink rose attached to the first M, and another pendant with a rose perched on the last M. MOM in script; MOM in block letters. I loved my name and the excitement that, I’m sure, went into buying it for me.

To be fair, my husband became very good at finding meaningful gifts. Resting my hand over a pendant on my chest or admiring the sparkle in a gemstone ring he’d chosen for me always brought my thoughts back to him.

Just when I thought all my jewelry -worthy moments were spent, I found one more from an unexpected source.

I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I discovered all the fun I could have with Dick and Jane (Sally, Spot and Puff). Some of my favorite gifts have been first editions of my favorite authors’ works. I used the necklaces from the kids as bookmarks in those special books.

After our nest emptied, I had more time to indulge in thick novels that I could read whenever I wanted. It was like living in a candy factory. But the more I read, the more critical I became. I could write better than this, I had thought. With eyes much bigger than talent, I started with the biggie: THE BOOK. Of course it was pure garbage, but a great eye opener. Writing was hard work. Maybe, I couldn’t actually pen a bestseller (or any seller for that matter).

Frustrated with the enormity of my challenge, I resorted to writing quick short stories: a beginning, middle and an ending – all in under one thousand words. I submitted articles to local papers and online publications. I never got feedback, but my work continued to be published with my byline as compensation.

When we retired to North Carolina, I dared to submit to paying publications. I piled the rejections in an envelope. Finally, I received an acceptance, and soon after, a check followed in the mail.

I had been paid for writing an essay about my family and being a MOM!

I stared at the piece of paper in my hand, taking pure pleasure in the moment. My first thought was to frame it and hang it next to my computer where I could take solace when I labored over the words for my book. It was a balloon moment and it wasn’t going to deflate. This was huge –  right there under love, marriage and babies. It was my accomplishment.

I made a copy of that check and placed it in the magazine with my article. I put on my shoes and got in the car. I needed to mark this date.

I’d never purchased fine jewelry for myself before. My necklaces, bracelets and earrings were gifts from the people I loved. They were placeholders – a road map – of celebrations with my family that I didn’t want to let slip away. This was one of those reminders with a gift to me from me.

I scanned displays in shop after shop until I found them: silver and gold hammered by hand and shaped into earrings by an artist. They were earthy, imperfect and interesting. I slid the smooth hooks into the holes in my ear lobes. They felt as much a part of my timeline as the gold iron charm and the multitude of “MOM” necklaces.

I like the person I see in the mirror with the magnificent earrings. This is the spot on the map where I discovered another piece of me. My new jewelry could represent my exclamation point, a period, or maybe, a simple comma – with more to come. I hope (someday) my daughter and granddaughters will wear these earrings on their own roadmaps to finding themselves and their own inner goldmines.

All because an editor took the time to read my story and liked it.

Thanks, Leslie and Sasee Magazine.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer newly relocated to Connecticut. She continues to write about moments worth remembering, graciously provided by family and friends.

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9 Responses to “Gold Map”

  1. Sue Bisceglia says:

    I always love reading Rose Ann’s stories. I can always relate to them. 💕

  2. Diane Q says:

    Whenever I read one of Rose Ann’s stories, I either laugh or cry…sometimes both. She has a way of always making you relate to things in your on life. So proud of you dear friend. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Susan South says:

    I love this piece.

  4. Betsy Bergstrom says:

    Love this story. On our first Christmas Dale gave me a sewing machine and sewing basket. So disappointed but smiled. After that year he gave me jewelry AND a practical gift as well! I still have the jewelry but that sewing machine never gave me a love of sewing 🧵 I always look forward to your articles. They are so funny and always puts a smile on my face. Thank you for your love of writing ✍️

  5. Tammy Rohlf says:

    As always a wonderful story that so many people can relate to. You have such a way of writing that takes your readers on a journey with you. However I am still looking for you to write that book of yours – I know it will be another adventure for all to enjoy!

  6. Joan Leotta says:

    Great essay!

  7. Colleen Wenthen says:

    So true, told Kevin right from the get go no practical gifts. Your stories are so relateable. Great job my friend. Can’t vwait to read your novel.

  8. Janet Grillo says:

    I love reading your stories, how you put things into perspective, and of course your humor!

  9. Mary Ann says:

    Rose,
    What a lovely way to chronicle the loves of your life.

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