I opened a box that held my son Mark's ring and a ring that had been given to him by my cousin Glenn. It took me back in time wondering why people were so cruel back then when it came to children who were not "perfect".
Glenn was a year older then I was. I didn't really know my family too well but Glenn was a cousin who I really liked even though we rarely saw each other. As the story goes, at birth they knew Glenn wasn't "right" because his head was large. The first time I remember being with him was when we were about 5 and 6 years old. He was twice the size of me, wore very thick glasses and talked very slow. That day we were allowed to hold a baby chick. When it was his turn, after many warnings from my aunt not to squeeze it, he held it for a long time with his hand open. Then he brought it to his lips to kiss it and forgot and closed his fingers on it and squeezed the life out of it. Every adult yelled at him, mean things. He crawled under the wooden porch and cried for hours with me along side of him.
Glenn never learned to read or write but he was much smarter then I was from listening to the radio all the time. Ask him anything about the world and he could give you a history lesson for hours. Glenn didn't seem to ever stop growing. His mother had to knit him mittens for a hunting trip in Canada. He always enjoyed his size. I remember him telling me to put both my feet into one mitten and see how big they still would be.
I don't know why Glenn was so happy all the time. His father refused to recognize him as a son and his mother suffered because she produced him. They hid him as much as possible until he was too old and just showed up when he wasn't suppose to.
My Uncle had Green houses and a roadside flower stand in the little mountain town they lived in. Glenn grew up to do much of the work, hauling dirt and tending to the coal heater fires in the winter to keep the plants warm. He did it always with a smile on. He spent most of his life alone except for a brother who adored him until his life was lost on the job at a very early age. After his mother died he took a lot of verbal abuse from his father.
Glenn had diabetis and no one cared to prepare meals for him that were healthy. He was not only huge but was way over weight. He had a lot of trouble with his feet, and wore shoes much too small for his feet. He heard an ad on the radio for a hospital in Philadelphia that did surgery on diabetic feet and was able to save people from the loss of toes. I was living outside of Philadelphia at the time. He got another cousin to call me and ask if I would help him get to this hospital and have surgery before he ended up with no toes and unable to walk.
At the time my son Mark and I were living together. Glenn arrived on the bus, had the surgery and spent weeks in bed recovering at our place. He and Mark became very close. There was no subject Glenn couldn't talk about and Mark enjoyed every second of it. Before Glenn left, he insisted Mark keep his ring. I remember back when the ring was being made. After sending a strip that went around his finger to a jeweler in New York several times the fellow finally drove to the mountain town in disbelief of the ring size to measure the finger himself. I think Mark ended up with the ring because Glenn had found a friend who really was a friend. Mark adored him and hated knowing we were sending him back to live in a home where he wasn't loved but was used for his brute strength. Glenn didn't live to see age 50.
When I was packing up Mark's things after his death, I found the ring wrapped in a piece of velvet in Mark's treasure box. I remember adding Mark's own ring and putting it in this little box. I didn't get any packing done today. It was a good memory knowing that when I finally leave earth myself I not only will be out of pain but I'll be with the people I love and miss.
Here is Glenn's ring, Mark's ring and my ring:
|The quarter is smaller then the ring|