My memories of childhood Easters are mostly of coloring the eggs my mother would then hide for me to find on Sunday mornings. We lived on our farm, then, which means I’d yet to enter third grade, and we’d yet to move to Oak Forest, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago. Each year, while we lived in Chicagoland, we drove five hours south to our farm to spend Easter weekend there. We drove back on Sunday, and we often stopped at a smorgasbord restaurant somewhere before Kankakee to eat. I remember one year it rained, and we sat near a window in this restaurant and watched the rain come down. My mother sighed and said it meant it would rain seven consecutive Sundays thereafter, a piece of lore passed down through the generations. Back then, I never considered my mother’s happiness. Like most children, I only considered my own. Now, however, I think she had a touch of melancholy. Sometimes, like that rainy day in the restaurant, she’d sigh. I couldn’t hear the sadness in that sigh then, but I can hear it now.

She’d gone through enough in her life to merit this sadness. My grandfather’s drinking problem, his loss of the family farm when he couldn’t make the mortgage payments, his early death, the farming accident that cost my father both of his hands. From an early age, when she helped care for her five siblings, she’d been a woman of duty. She’d married late in life at the age of forty-one, and four years later, much to my parents’ surprise, I’d come along. She was a schoolteacher, a wife, a mother, a caretaker, and a farm worker. She took responsibility for the education of other women’s children, she kept our house in order, she did for my father what he couldn’t do for himself, she did her chores and helped him maintain farm equipment and manage livestock.

One evening, when we were still living on the farm, I had my mother’s wedding band. She was milking cows in our barn, and maybe she’d given it to me to hold. I really don’t remember why I had that band. All I remember is the fact that I dropped it in the barnyard, and we never saw it again. It was nearly dark when I dropped it, and we searched and searched as long as we had a bit of light. We searched the next morning, again with no success. It was a simple gold band, nothing fancy at all, but even now, recalling this, I get very sad because my parents never replaced it. My mother went to her grave, her fingers never again adorned. She wore no visible sign that for thirty-seven years she’d been devoted to my less than perfect father. She’d loved him as deeply as someone could love, loved him despite his temper, and had been his partner every day of their life together.

I’ve never forgotten that ring, nor the guilt I still feel for losing it. I don’t know what happened to my father’s wedding band the day of his accident, but I imagine the snapping rollers of the corn picker mangled it beyond repair just as they did his hands. Maybe it’s fitting, then, that my mother took off her ring so she and my father could wear their love modestly, no adornment at all, just the invisible bond that anchored them. Entwined. Unbreakable. Their grave marker has interlocking wedding bands etched into it and the words, “Together, forever.” In a way, the ring I lost has been restored, and what endured—my parents’ love—is now preserved in stone and proclaimed to anyone who cares to notice. I can almost forgive myself as I believe my mother must have done a long time ago.


  1. Ellen Cassidy on April 1, 2024 at 7:34 am

    Beautiful…brought a tear to my eye this post -Easter Monday! Most especially the part where kids don’t pay real attention to what their parents go through until much later.

  2. Terri DeVos on April 1, 2024 at 10:51 am

    Beautiful, even though some are sad, memories.
    I love this story!
    By the way, that restaurant was The Redwood Restaurant. Had many meals and memories there myself.

    • Lee Martin on April 2, 2024 at 11:28 am

      Thanks for the name of the restaurant. I never would have retrieved that from my memory.

      • Katy Yocom on April 3, 2024 at 12:21 pm

        This is lovely. Thank you, Lee.

  3. Frank on April 1, 2024 at 11:37 am

    “All I remember is the fact that I dropped it in the barnyard, and we never saw it again.”

    Ever think about returning to your former home and searching for your mother’s ring with a metal detector (assuming your old farm hasn’t been made into a parking lot)? I think it would be amazing for you to have that keepsake after all these years. Plenty of metal detectorists would be happy to help you with this endeavor the next time you visit Illinois.

    • Lee Martin on April 2, 2024 at 11:28 am

      That’s a good thought. Thanks so much!

  4. Kerry on April 2, 2024 at 11:43 pm

    So beautiful, Lee💚

  5. Shiv Dutta on April 13, 2024 at 7:18 pm

    So lovely and touching as always!

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