K-Xengah asks: My mum passed away in 2014 and I got a step-mum the following year. I was okay with it until I saw her wearing my mum’s wedding rings. I really find that disrespectful. And what hurts is that that’s something I wouldn’t expect from her…or anyone for that matter. We tried talking to her and dad but they didn’t budge and made it seem like we were wrong and those weren’t even mum’s rings until my sister called her and gave her a piece of her mind. And even though the rings are off her fingers, emotionally I don’t think I’m okay and I have barely said a word to her for three days now, because all I can think about is “what type of person does that?”
Hi K-Xengah –
I certainly understand your concern, but I don’t think I agree with you about who to blame in this.
I know some people who have a dog as a pet, love that pup like crazy, take perfect care of it all the way including putting their beloved soulmate down when it’s time, and then save the pooch’s collar, leash, water bowl, etc., and give them all to their next dog. While others find that just grotesque, and say “No, you save those as memories, and give the new dog new things.”
Which is right? I can tell you we dogs don’t really care, so I’d say it’s whatever’s right for the person.
Now I’m not trying to compare your mother to a pet, but the issue is kind of the same. I agree with you that most people would argue that her wedding rings are hers alone, and no one else ought to wear them (or if anyone should, it’s you or some other descendant – or the woman a descendant marries, which can be quite lovely, “I want you to be my wife, and I’m giving you my great grandmother’s ring as a statement of commitment!”). But then, your father is sharing so much else that would have been your mother’s – his home, furniture, finances… and biggest of all, you! – that he might see giving her the rings as a statement of love and continuity. In fact, I could imagine he might even see it as a way of honoring your mother, by saying “Every time I look at my second wife, I’ll be reminded of my first wife, so that I can be faithful in my heart forever.”
My point is that, just as I wouldn’t blame a dog for wearing a collar a human put onto her, I wouldn’t blame your stepmother for wearing those rings. It was your father’s choice to give them to her, and his alone.
Clearly, between your reaction and your sister’s, your father and stepmother got the message that you two find your stepmother wearing those rings unacceptable, and acted accordingly.
And so, my very strong suggestion is… Let the whole issue go. Forget about it.
Again, this was your father’s choice. Maybe it wasn’t the best one, but you’re not planning on exchanging him for another father; he’s the one you’ve got and you’re sticking with him. And assuming they stay together, he and your stepmother will be your family for a very long time. And again, they’ve honored your and your sister’s wishes (though maybe you’d be happier about it if they’d honored your feelings without her having to speak up!). So my suggestion is to pretend it never happened, and have the family life you deserve.
Then, maybe a few years from now, you and your sister might talk with your father about what to do with the rings. Again, maybe one of you should have them, maybe someone else.
But in the meantime, you will have honored your mother by speaking up, and you can honor your father by letting him move forward from his mistake. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me!