My grade-school, high school, life-long chum backed her white Mercedes convertible onto Weaver Ridge, and we headed to the jeweler I’d been been frequenting while redesigning my Mother’s jewelry since my father’s death. A half hour early I’d pulled into Peoria and stopped by Lori’s house to pick her up. It was her 60th birthday party day and her kids had begged me to get her out of the house. We were in route to pick up a ring I had reset. A stunning blue topaz my mother had purchased when I was in high school. She had designed the setting she’d worn for years and which I’d inherited after my father’s death. Her setting did not fit me in style, and it had taken me eight years to get up the nerve to reset it in a modern version that suits me.
As Lori crossed over Hwy 150, I asked, “how you doing with Sixty?” I’d turned sixty in January, and it hadn’t been so bad even though Covid put a damper on the big party I’d imagined throwing for myself.
“I’m fine with sixty,” Lori said. “But it’s what’s next that’s got me in a twitter.”
“Seventy,” I said.
“How’d you know.”
“Because I woke on my birthday fine with the the sound of sixty rolling around on my tongue. But seventy is looming and it feels like it will happen tomorrow.”
Lori and I had always known we’d get old. We’d joked about making sure we had rocking chairs for one of our front porches. Invariably Lori’s because she never left Peoria. I had moved all around the U.S., even a stint on Maui.
Melissa, the jeweler presented me with my topaz and it’s Chinese-whirlpool cut, now set in a chunky white-gold asymmetrical setting flanked by three blue stones on either side. I stared in to the stunning blue swirls made by the facets, and looked into infinity.
“Show Lori Mom’s old setting,” I said to Melissa, and she brought out the thin gold band with the “K” prongs Mom had designed for her name Kathryn, for which she was proud. Did I wonder if my mother would like what I’d done with the ring? No, I actually didn’t care. What I cared more about was why Mom had chosen the stone over forty years ago, and why designing prongs in a circle of “k’s” was so important to her. The designing process had taken forever as I remembered it. And that, I thought, is the problem with aging. The fading of memory, and the inevitable loss of Lori. Who would go first, I’ve always wondered? Her or me?