My Old Man was obsessed with lottery tickets. Every week he bought one (or more accurately, more than one, more like a fistful). He would rub his hands together and gleefully declare, “when my ship comes in, I’m gonna.” Do this thing or that, buy this thing or that, travel to this place or that.” Fill in the blank and he was gonna.
Problem was, his ship never came in.
When I was a young kid, I believed him. Completely. With every fiber of my being. I too would rub my hands together gleefully and declare, “Oh boy, can’t wait Dad!” This was prior to 1969 and the start of lotteries in Canada. So up until then, he was purchasing Irish Sweepstakes tickets. He never won. But I did.
My ship had come in.
In 1965, The Old Man bought an Irish Sweepstakes ticket for me, which I don’t think was even legal. But that didn’t stop him. The fact that I was a minor was a minor detail. I won 1400 pounds, which was about the same in Canadian dollars back then. So not a lot. But it was the jackpot for this starry-eyed girl and her Old Man.
The beauty part with this ship-coming-in-event was that he never expected, no wanted, any of that money to go to him. It was mine. I won it fair and square. He made that abundantly clear. I think there was a part of him that knew he was never going to win the Irish Sweepstakes. Just like he knew I was the one with the luck of the Irish. At least back then.
One of the first things I bought with my winnings was something for Ma. I wanted to give her something beautiful, something simple, a keepsake to remind her of my undying love for her. So, we did what winners do. We embarked on a meaningful retail experience. We took the bus downtown to Eaton’s where we headed directly to the jewellery department. It was there that we found the perfect item to celebrate, not only the sweepstakes win, but more importantly, our mother-daughter bond.
A pearl ring. Beautiful. Simple. Genuine. The stone of sincerity. And there was nothing in this world more sincere than my love for Ma. She was the mother of all pearls.
From that day forward, she wore it whenever she went out. Not being one for formal affairs or fancy gatherings, Ma would slip the ring on to go shopping, for walks, visits with family, church, to the park, to the bank, to Dominon, on the bus, in the car, on ferry boats, airplanes and just sitting on the front steps at 204. I loved seeing it on her finger. As the years weathered her beautiful hands, the ring graced her finger. Like her, it grew more divine and more brilliant with time.
The Old Man’s ship never did come in. Once Canada introduced lotteries, he went berserk. His weekly obsession was uncontrollable. The edge-of-the-seat anticipation, the rising excitement, the prized purchase, the held-breath waiting, the hair-raising announcements of winners, his momentary disappointment, the better-luck-next-time-keep-at-it-keep-trying pep talk, and ultimately, the one-day-your-ship-will-come-in mantra.
My Old Man gave up on all kinds of things in his lifetime. Himself mostly. But the one thing he never gave up on, never lost hope, never declared defeat, was that one day his ship would come in. He died waiting. Sad ending.
Flash forward 55 years to October 1, 2022. This is the day my daughter M got married to the love of her life. She was gorgeous in every way. Flawless. Dress, shoes, necklaces, hair, makeup, nails – all on point. Picture perfect. Truth is, she didn’t really need all the bridal finery because her genuine beauty radiated from within. That was apparent to everyone.
There was one accessory my daughter was wearing that day that few people would have noticed, and even fewer, who knew the backstory. But for the mother of the bride, it was the most precious treasure. The quintessential finishing touch. More exquisite than the Crown Jewels.
On M’s right pinky finger, looking every bit as magnificent as it did when first purchased, an entire lifetime ago, was her grandmother’s pearl ring.
Wedding Photos by Heather @ Tulle & Tweed Photography