Huh? You say. That's right, friends. Diamonds are for suckers. My dad proposed with a snowsuit on Christmas day in 1972. You can't tell in this picture, but it's red. My mom reluctantly said yes, but I think that is because she wanted the snowsuit.
The story of how my mom got her actual engagement ring is one of my favorite stories that my dad tells over and over. One day in Norfolk where my dad's family spent the summers, my grandmother realized she had lost her wedding rings after breakfast. She asked her six children to help her find them, but five of them went to the beach. My father stayed around and dug through an alley full of trash cans - rotting crabs in summer heat - until he finally found their breakfast garbage, where my grandmother had taken off her rings to do the dishes and set them in a mini-cereal box. When he proudly presented my grandmother with her rings, she told him that when he got married, he could use the center diamond for an engagement ring.
I love my engagement ring, I really really do, but to this day, I still think my mom has the prettiest engagement ring/wedding band set I've ever seen.
At my grandmother's funeral, I finally got to hear the story of how my grandmother came by the ring. He was overseas during the war, and he told his mother to take my grandmother to the store and pick out her engagement ring.
Can we just stop here, for a second, and reflect on the fact that my grandmother picked out her own ring and it was totally fine and that is awesome?
Moving on. My grandma picked out a ring and apparently my great-grandmother said something along the lines of, "Frank can afford better than that." Let's mention here, briefly, that my great-grandmother is not remembered for being nice*, and move on. My grandmother explained to my great-grandmother that even if he could, she didn't want it, because they were going to start a family and have a marriage. I will also take this opportunity to point out that the diamond is an old-mine-cut with amazing clarity and sparkle, so maybe diamonds were just cheaper during the war, or my great-grandmother had a weird sense of "better", but I loved hearing this story because it involves my Grandma being practical and standing up to my great-Grandmother. I think she would have fit in well with the rest of us.
*My ring is a stone that was given to my great-grandmother by the only man she was ever nice to, who was the little old man that lived downstairs. Every day she brought him orange juice and a newspaper. The ring went to my aunt, then my other aunt, and then me.