A special piece of jewelry

Published 1:01 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A little more than a year ago my son Matthew, my daughter Emily and I set out to shop for a very special item, an engagement ring.

Emily and I were thrilled to be asked to come along and big sister Holly got texts the entire day with pictures. This past December Matthew and I went to Christmas shopping and to pick the ring up from lay-away. This time upon entering the store Matthew didn’t break out in a sweat, and he decided that the ring he had chosen first just didn’t look like Lizzie. After some careful deliberation and more texts the final perfect ring was chosen and tucked away at home.

Then came the hard part — how to ask her, where to ask her and when to ask her. In a roundabout way the answer was soon given to him. Lizzie’s parents invited us up to Kentucky this past weekend for the opening day of horse races at Keeneland in Lexington. Matthew decided that would be the perfect time to talk to her father, and then in the next two weeks after that he would propose at a home baseball game in Oxford when all their friends would be there.

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Unfortunately two weeks ago Lizzie’s grandfather became very ill. He began to show some improvement and we got a phone call saying that he would be moved from Lexington to the hospital there in Mount Sterling where he would be close to his wife and family. Lizzie was thrilled as she was unable to go home during the worst part of his illness. She is one of four children, and you could hear the happiness in her voice when she told us that all of her siblings would be there for the visit and to go to the races.

This made up Matthew’s mind, he would ask there in her home with her family around to share the good news. So this past Thursday I got off from work early, and Matthew made arrangements to miss a class, and we headed to Tupelo to pick up Lizzie and her puppy, Belle. Twelve hours after we headed out, the three of us pulled up into their driveway, hugged everyone and said our goodnights.

Friday dawned and we all gathered for lunch and for Matthew and Dr. Ratliff to play a round of golf. What could be better? Matthew loves golf, he would get to talk to Byram somewhere they would both be comfortable and he could get the show on the road. Lizzie has a sister named Mary who loves to tease her and is very adept at keeping Matthew on his toes. She had already figured out that Matthew was going to talk to Byram that day so with a mischievous grin she announced that she was going to play a hole or two with them.

Since I was the only other one who knew what was going on, it was funny when Matthew gave me a quick look. But, what’s a hole or two out of 18? Later on I received a text from Matthew that Mary was headed out, but their brother Will had dropped by the course to see them. Now the pressure was bumped up a notch and the plan was a little touchier. Matthew wanted to ask her Friday night so that she and her family could celebrate together for the weekend and that hinged on talking to her dad first.

I could barely contain my giggles when I then received a text that said Will had left but now Byram was chatting with friends at the course and dinner time was drawing near. Fortunately there was an errand to be run, the conversation was held and permission to proceed obtained.

Later sitting out on the deck with the rest of the family Lizzie’s mother, Jennifer, asked were the couple was, I just smiled and sipped my wine. Moments later out the door came a radiant young lady with a ring a on her left hand and I had the first glimpse of my soon to be daughter-in-law. The happiness on her face and my sons told me all I needed to know. Amid the joyous celebration I was struck by how my little family has grown and expanded through love, now thanks to wonderful choices on the part of my two oldest children I have extended family in Dallas and now in Kentucky.

I still can’t figure out how Matthew got to be old enough to think about being married and you would think with child labor laws he wouldn’t have been able to buy a ring! As I watched his new extended family gather him in as their soon to be son, brother and uncle for the youngest one I was struck by how love works. You think you love your little family and your heart is full with that love, but you quickly find that your heart has an enormous capacity for love and it will expand to include anyone you choose. The trick is to choose wisely so that love is returned and can grow even more.