The Pinky Ring Club

Sunday brings Pentecost, a day that I associate with a most fleeting thing: air. Invisible life force, we breathe in, breathe out: respiration. A word so close to “inspiration” and indeed they share the same Latin root, spirare: breath. Pentecost has to do with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Earth and it is this that brings about my airy thoughts each year for this day, as one word links to another: spirit to ghost, ghost to gust, gust to wind, wind to breath, breath to respiration, and breath to inspiration, too.

With Pentecost, we are 50 days past Easter, and with it, we transition further beyond spring and closer to summer. Though red is the color of Pentecost in the Church, the day in some places is known as White Sunday: Whitsunday. Special Whitsun Ales are brewed at this time of year, in some places drunk on Whitsunday, in other places brewed on Whitsunday.

Ah, but that is Sunday. Today, the 18th of May, it’s another celebration, one of my family’s own. My dad would have been 92 today. Approaching his birthday this year is not as bad as it was last year. Some of the sadness over his passing has been replaced by something different. I still miss him something awful, but more often when we talk about him or when he pops into my head the feelings are bathed in warmth, which is a slight change from last year. I still sigh a lot, but I smile a lot, too.

Mom does not want to do anything in particular for Dad’s birthday and so we are honoring her wishes. I’m not sure what Seth and I will do. It’s not like we can just make Dad’s favorite meal in honor of his birthday. He didn’t really have a favorite meal. He would sometimes say how much he loved a good Porterhouse steak… but once you put one on a plate for him, he would eat it and when he was done, always proclaim that he’d rather have a nice dish of pasta. And there was the custard-filled crumb cake he would talk about, too––the one that came from a bakery in Brooklyn called Hummel’s when he was younger. When you got right down to it, though, Dad was always just plain happy to eat whatever was put in front of him.

Honoring Dad’s memory with a favorite meal may be out, but I will wear his ring for his birthday. It was his pinky ring, one that he had from the time I was a boy. His initials, which happen to be the same as mine, in diamonds. It is so not something I would wear, but I do wear it when I want to keep him closer in spirit. It’s too big for my pinky so I wear it on my ring finger. It’s flashy, sparkly, a bit like my Dad, who, though he did not like to call attention to himself, did love himself some bling on his fingers. When he bought himself that pinky ring, Dad drove a 1960s Cadillac and he liked the finer things in life, as he always did––things he worked hard to attain. He was of the Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra age, and he would have fit in nicely shooting pool with them wearing this ring. I wore it at his funeral last year. I wish I could remember which New York cousin it was of mine who I think was wearing his own dad’s pinky ring then, too, and who said we were all members of the Pinky Ring Club now. I’ll take that as inspiration, too, in this time of holy spirit, ghost, gust, and breath. Happy birthday, Dad.


Image: Dad’s JC ring. Dad would sometimes try to teach me boxing moves when I was a kid. He’d have both dukes up and tell me, “Watch the left,” and then surprise me with the right. I was too busy trying to figure out which left he meant: mine or his. Needless to say, I didn’t do very well at boxing. Things like that always made me think we were very different, until we were both older, and I realized how much we are the same. That, too, is something that I can smile about now. If I am wearing my dad’s pinky ring, though, watch out: That ring can do some serious damage to your kisser.


25 thoughts on “The Pinky Ring Club

  1. Guy Icangelo says:

    Wonderful memories, John.

  2. Glenn says:

    I like this story very much, John. It reminds me of my grandfather very much. From the Chevy Caprice to pinky rings, to Sumatra to Hoboken(where my family settled) its all very similar. Happy Birthday to your dad today. We celebrated with bloody Mary’s for mother’s day in honor of my grandmother. She loved them❤️

  3. Denise says:

    John, I think the bling suits you. Thank you for always sharing your heart felt stories with us. They bring a lot of joy and reflection to my life. Happy Birthday to your Dad. ❤️

  4. Janet says:

    I agree, embrace the bling! Thank you for sharing this with us. I remember your Dad and he would have fit in great with Dean and Frank.

  5. Jonas A McCaffery says:

    My brothers tried to get me to fight; it never stuck. Some people have it, and some people don’t.

  6. Stacey Adams says:

    Dear John,
    Always love to hear about your family in your posts and how you celebrate many of the holidays you write about. I’m happy to hear that the open wound of your father’s death has healed lightly and you can enjoy your memories more. My parents had been living with us for 7 years when my mother died 25 years ago. She and my father were great poetry lovers, so on her birthday for several years after her death we would invite friends over for coffee and cheesecake and asked them to bring their favorite poems to read or recite aloud. My father died three years ago next month and I think it is time for another poetry party. I pray the Holy Spirit fills you with much inspiration for the coming year. Blessings, Stacey

  7. Dee says:

    Thanks for sharing. I, too, treasure my memories.

    I can’t wear my Daddy’s tractor on my finger, but it was his and I think of him every time we use it.

    I don’t think we ever get over a loved one’s death, we just get through it. One day we realize we haven’t cried that day, and another day we will remember the joys and not so many sorrows.

    • John Cutrone says:

      Wise words, Dee. I think of Dad, too, as I mow the lawn at the family homestead on his rider mower. I sometimes think how much easier my life would be if we had a lawn service do this job… but then I know I’d miss that particular Dad Time I have while I’m doing it. I’m glad you have a bit of that, too.

  8. Chris says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories as always, John. Always a celebration of life throughout the year.

  9. Chris Conrad says:

    What a lovely tribute to your father. I have a similar connection to my grandfather. He always wore bolo ties. While he had a number of them, his favorite and the one I most associate with him is a Navajo thunderbird piece. After he passed, my mother graciously secured that for me from his estate. I frequently wear it (as a necklace, not a tie) and always feel closer to him when I do. Although our loved ones are not of this earth anymore, we keep them and their love alive in our hearts.

  10. donna read says:

    Thanks for sharing your touching story. Remembering our loved ones is so important.

    Please wear your ring at one of our Real Mail Friday events. We would all love to see it on you!!

  11. Paula Marie Gourley says:

    The realization that, with breath and time, the sadness begins to glow with sweet warmth…that life continues, infused with love, and that time is the gift. Time is given, taken, always too short, and then, remembrance and realization is long. Thank you, John, for sharing the journey…and that bit of bling. Our precious Dads live on, in what they taught us, and the men they were, and how that shaped us. Love to you, as always.

  12. Carl Mario Nudi says:

    Thank you, John, for sharing your story. I cried all the while I was reading it as I have my own father/ring story.

    • John Cutrone says:

      Ah, Carlo, thank you and I’m happy you have that father/ring story, too. If you want to share it here, well, I’d certainly be interested in hearing it. All my best to you.

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