Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Stanzas 7 & 8 from A Psalm of Life- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Mother's Day this year was bittersweet for one of our crafters, Kassie.
Kassie celebrated Mother’s Day with both her mom and grandma, but this is the first year May 8th came and went without Kassie’s grandpa being with her family.
After a long bout with Lewy-body dementia, Grandpa Don passed away in August of 2021.
The Inspiration for The Memorial Ring
Early May holds three important days for Kassie: her Grandpa Don’s birthday, Grandma Darla’s birthday, and Mother’s Day. With the recent passing of her grandpa, Kassie got inspired to craft Grandma Darla a special Mother’s Day gift this year; a memorial ring for Grandpa Don.
Kassie has made hundreds of rings that tell a story over the four years she’s worked at Rustic & Main, but this was the first ring Kassie has made to tell a story so personal to her.
The Ring's Materials
She decided to use three items of significance to create this memorial of her grandpa.
To represent the strong steadfast leader he was for her family, Kassie took shavings from the 150-year-old white oak tree Grandpa Don is laid to rest under on the family’s property.
To represent his life's passions Kassie took the darkest coffee grounds she could find since Grandpa Don enjoyed his daily brew.
Lastly, to represent the love the community had for her grandfather, Kassie included petals from the flower arrangements people sent in for the funeral to show their love and support for the family of the man who touched their lives. She included many purple pansies since they were Grandpa Don’s favorite flower.
The Design of the Ring
The base of Grandpa Don’s memorial band is titanium. The bottom half of the ring is inlaid with white oak, to represent Grandpa Don’s life being rooted in steadfast principles, and the top half of the ring is a flower bed, with coffee ground soil, and blossoms made from the flowers the community sent to Kassie’s family after Grandpa Don’s passing.
Crafting a Ring with Memories
“It helped with my grieving process to craft and to make something artistic,” said Kassie, “As I was making the ring, I felt all the memories of him come rushing back, the things that he loved, the things he instilled in my dad and us as his grandchildren.”
A Special Bond with Grandpa
Kassie shared a special bond with Grandpa Don.
Not only was she the first grandchild in the family, but Kassie and Grandpa Don were the only woodworkers in the family.
As a young girl, Kassie would sit perched on a stool in her Grandpa Don's woodshop while he carved and crafted, and he would tell her stories.
“Grandpa was a great storyteller, but a little long-winded though. He could talk and talk, some might say like me,” said Kassie with a chuckle. “He could tell you the innermost workings of a microwave, so you had to make sure you were in for the long haul if you brought him a question.”
Remembering Grandpa Don
Kassie described her grandpa as a Teddy Roosevelt-esque character. He didn’t air his personal opinions for the whole world to hear but instead lived his life as such a principle man that everyone knew where he stood by simply watching him.
Kassie watched her grandpa lead her family with strength and character. She watched him show up for people he had barely known a day to help them move houses. She watched him pull funny faces in photos, piddle around his woodshop, sip his coffee and love his family and community day in and day out.
“I don’t think you realize how capable you are of loving someone until a beautiful story is coming to an end,” said Kassie with a tear in her eye. “this ring is a way that his story can live as part of his legacy.”
Cherishing Grandma Darla
While she grieves the loss of Grandpa Don, Kassie has made sure to cherish the woman to whom she is giving Grandpa’s memorial ring.
Kassie gets her woodworking and storytelling skills from Grandpa Don and her spunky, artistic nature from Grandma Darla.
“ Grandma and I have always been close. We're kindred spirits, who have a lot of feist and fire in us,” said Kassie, “ I have made more of a point to spend time with her, making sure that I am asking her questions and listening to her stories so I can learn from her life and wisdom.”
Don & Darla’s First Date
One of Kassie’s favorite Grandma Darla stories is Grandpa Don and Grandma Darla's first date.
Don was late. Very late.
On the afternoon of their first date, Don had to attend a relative’s funeral, but he didn’t tell Darla about it. It was far past the time they had agreed upon when Don knocked on the door of Darla’s home. Luckily, Darla kindly listened to Don’s explanation for his tardiness and graciously decided to still go out with the young man.
But, it didn’t end there.
Grandma Darla has always been a spirited lady, and she doesn’t have a taste for people who say things they aren’t ready to follow through on.
Don let an "I love you" slip out (on the very first date mind you). Darla did not take very kindly to it, thinking Don was being insincere with her.
“Next time you say something like that, you better be ready to marry me!” Darla told Don clear and plainly.
Luckily marriage was in the cards for the couple, and surely many more "I love yous" followed after that first date incident.
Grandpa Don’s Legacy
Don and Darla went on to raise a wonderful family and impacted their community in a way words cannot fully describe.
Kassie hopes that whenever Grandma Darla looks down at her hand, she will see the memorial ring, representing the legacy of the man she loved and still loves. She will think of Grandpa Don, who walked through life with sound wisdom and a strong character that loved her more than his hot, black, and bitter coffee. The man who sowed the seeds of love and friendship to family and strangers alike, reaping a garden of love and remembrance within his community.
Craft a Memorial Ring
If you want a way to remember a loved one, we would love to collaborate with you on a memorial ring. Visit our website or look at our ring customizer tool to see how you can create a token of remembrance.