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My wedding band once belonged to my husband’s uncle Pietro, whom I met for the first time in Rome where he has lived his whole life. We met for the first time in February 2018, though he gave the band to his sister, my mother-in-law, many years previously.
Pietro’s ring was originally meant for his lover, a woman many years older than him, who had been married and had two children prior. Pietro was madly in love with this woman, and had presented this simple gold band engraved with their initials to her, to propose marriage after many years of openly dating, if you can even call it dating if you began your love life in an affair.
The lover refused his proposal, because she was embarrassed. Too old, too controversial, unfair to Pietro who was still so young and had the rest of his life ahead of him. He was devastated. He gave the ring to his little sister.
It is decades later when my now mother-in-law goes through old jewelry and memorabilia, decluttering her already tidy closet, telling me the story of this ring. She asks if I want it. I say yes, and replace the thing I bought on our last trip to Japan, which replaces the engagement ring my husband inherited from her when announcing plans to propose to me. I swore left and right that I did not want a ring when we got married—hence the 800 yen thing we picked up at a lifestyle store on that trip—but when I hear the story of this ring, I fall in love with it.
When I meet Pietro in Rome, he is close to 90, feeble. I think about his lover. He touches my chin affectionately. I melt into the earth thinking about how he must have touched her.