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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

Rings on Her Fingers 2

My mom’s instinct for social interaction is incredibly strong. When we are out on the streets of the city, we often pause in our rambling to say hello to people we know. Often, though, it’s random strangers who are targets of her sincere and infectious cheerfulness.

We stopped into several jewelry stores to check on the methods they use to remove rings. (Yes, I’m still planning to have Mom’s rings removed, though how we’re going to convince Mom to go along with it is another matter. And it does not help when Daddy cavalierly says, “They have to remove the fingers too!”)

In one store, Mom enthusiastically greeted a woman at the counter as an old friend.

“Do I know you?” she asked Mom.

“I think it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other,” Mom replied.

I never know what to do in these situations. The woman was obviously confused. I didn’t want to blurt out in front of Mom that she has Alzheimer’s. Mom would probably be insulted and deny it. And by labeling Mom, I would be limiting the way this woman or other strangers viewed her. Most people figure out that something is not quite right, especially as she loses words along the way and her sentences become illogical.

“I think we made a mistake,” I finally said, stepping in to take Mom’s hand and lead her out. “But it is always nice to meet people with nice smiles.”

The woman visibly relaxed, and Mom, as a parting gift, gave her a big hug.

Everything was going well until we got back to their apartment for lunch and I got the text I’d been dreading. Our dear friend Sabrina passed away after a long, painful battle with cancer. We’d been expecting this since early Sunday morning when her condition took a turn for the worse. But it was hearing about Sabrina’s rings that really set me off. After her death, they were removed from her fingers and given lovingly to her six-year-old daughter.

There is such inherent tragedy in the end of a young life, with much left undone and unsaid. Sabrina was a fighter. She withstood the pain and deterioration of her body as long as she was able; we told her she could close her eyes, that her daughter was in good hands, but she stayed with us for another two days, fighting for life.

Rings and other jewelry naturally pass from one generation to the next. The diamond in my engagement ring belonged to my father-in-law, whom I never met; I inherited a ring from my father’s mother, one that had much sentimental value, and that was unfortunately stolen before I could wear it myself.

The slight fingers of a child are meant to grasp paint brushes and crayons and sparkly princess stickers not the jewelry of their mother. Sabrina’s cancer denied her the pleasure of knowingly and whole-heartedly sharing those rings with her daughter or future generations.

My mom isn’t in a frame of mind to be able to pass her rings to me, either. I have in my possession jewelry that Mom no longer wears, but those rings have been on her fingers for years, each one marking a moment in her life. Apart from her wedding and engagement rings, I particularly like the gold ring with a jade stone that Daddy bought in Hong Kong more than 30 years ago.

Those rings are signs of Mom’s vitality, of her very life force. I don’t want to wait for that moment of death to receive them. I also don’t want to deny her the obvious pleasure she receives from wearing them and showing them to me. Somehow, we must find a way to remove them gently and pass them to the next generation in a way that allows Mom the ability to share not only her love for us but the most sentimental treasures she possesses.

May Sabrina's memory be for a blessing. Each time I was with Sabrina during her extended illness, I realized that though she needed my help, I needed her, too. She will live in my memory as a strong, stubborn, caring woman from whom I learned many life lessons.

The minutiae of life goes on even in the face of death. The holiday of Chanukah starts this Saturday night. My daughter asked me if I could bake her gluten free donuts. If you’re issued a challenge like that, it is important to do your best to rise to it.

Gluten Free Vanilla Donuts

These donuts came out light and fluffy, and the fact that they are not chocolate is a plus in their favor. Can you imagine having a child who doesn't like chocolate?!! When working with a donut pan, make sure to fill each one only half way up as this batter rises considerably.

1 cup gluten free flour

½ cup rice flour

¼ cup potato flour

1 tsp gelatin

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp nutmeg

dash cinnamon

1 scant cup sugar

¾ cup rice cream

2 tsp vanilla


1 cup confectionary sugar

2-3 Tbsp apple or orange juice


In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients to bowl and combine until mixed well. Grease each donut or muffin pan. Fill each about half way as these donuts rise significantly. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Cool on a metal rack. Meanwhile, mix glaze ingredients to form a smooth paste. Dip each donut in glaze. Let glaze harden. Serve.

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