My brother Mike lost the Super Bowl II ring he inherited from my dad, and he’s doing everything he can to retrieve it. Of course, he regrets losing such a meaningful piece of memorabilia, but he has no qualms about wearing it.
He wore that ring all the time because our dad wore it all the time.
Neither has been cavalier, quite the contrary. Both wore the ring because they believed it was too special to be tucked away.
I think if you asked my dad to describe in one word the eight years he played for the Green Bay Packers and his subsequent relationship with that storied franchise, he’d choose grateful. Just 20-years old when he signed, he grew up on that team and he considered his teammates and coaches part of his extended family.
He also appreciated the historical impact of what that team accomplished. So, he never minded letting people try on his rings. He did it all the time. In fact, he once let it get passed around a whole plane. I inherited my dad’s Super Bowl I ring and I remember bringing it to a presentation a sixth grade teacher asked me to give for a unit on the 1960s and letting every single student in that room try the ring on. I loved seeing their faces light up as they slid that giant ring on their small fingers.
I store the ring in a safety deposit box, but I take it our for special occasions. Just this past summer, my son Charlie wore his grandpa’s ring on one hand as he new wife Tara placed another important ring on the other hand. Though he passed away 27 years before the big day, my dad was a part of that marriage ceremony thanks to his ring.
I like to think about all the different meanings for the word “ring”. It doesn’t just stand for the piece of metal you wear on your finger, it also encompasses the stories that jewelry accumulates as it makes its way through the world. Your grandma’s wedding ring represents her engagement, and every baby born, dish washed, pie baked, sweat wiped, hand held, coupon clipped, dollar spent, friend made, tear shed. So, when you wear that ring, you feel connected to all of those stories, and then you add your own, like layers of sediment in a mountain, or rings in a tree.
The stories are the real family heirlooms.
We’ll never know what it felt like to play on an NFL championship team, but we can smell the stadium turf, hear the crowd’s roar, feel those strained, tested muscles and taste that celebratory champagne when we slide our fingers into the ring that represents all of that. Our community owns the Packers and I’m sure it feels good to give a little something back to fans by letting them try on those championship rings.
Since the story went public, our family has received all kinds of great ideas and commiserating stories about lost valuables. Lots of our fellow Catholics are also praying to St. Anthony, which just happens to be my brother’s middle name. We appreciate those as well. In fact we’ve all been overwhlemed by the kind responses and we’re grateful for all the work everyone is doing to find that ring.
But we also have some perspective on life and we understand the difference between disappointment and tragedy.
I feel bad for my brother that he is experiencing such stress for a situation I easily also could have found myself in.
But, I also think this viral story is another of the many rings around that glorious ring. And, if there is someone out there who feels they need that ring more than he does, maybe that’s part of the ring’s story too.
I hope Mike gets his ring back. I really do.
But I’m also glad he wore it and I think my dad would be too.
Go Pack Go!