Friends and Signet Rings

David Aft has been a helpful, generous friend since 2001 when we first worked together at a nonprofit organization in Northwest Georgia. We've always had chemistry and rapport, especially evident in our social and political views and opinions. 

David Aft wrote a story about Harry Aft's signet ring, passed to him after his grandfather's death.

David Aft wrote a story about Harry Aft's signet ring, passed to him after his grandfather's death.

Go back in time with me to the week after I told David about my idea to collect and publish stories about keepsakes. He stood in front of my desk and read his keepsake story aloud to me as if he was delivering a soliloquy from Hamlet. He wrote a story about an heirloom—his grandfather's signet ring. He keeps it safely stowed in a safe deposit box, but he showed it to me on the day he read me his story.

But writing and giving me his story was just the beginning. He was determined to help me achieve my dream of publishing a book of keepsake stories, and so he twisted the arms of many family members and friends and somehow convinced others to contribute stories to my collection, too. I’m not sure how he shook them down, but he did. I got beautifully-crafted stories from his parents. From Tom Durkan. From Joanne and Marvin Lewis. And from his wife, Pauline, who wrote a haunting, retrospective story about a pill box hat. I will feature excerpts from all of these stories in the future, but today, I give you an excerpt from David Aft’s story, “The Signet Ring.”

The ring is simple and elegant, far different from my memories of Grandpa Harry, whose 6-foot 3-inch frame never projected either elegance or simplicity. I learned that the ring was a gift from his father, a modest immigrant from Eastern Europe who brought little but his faith from the Urals in 1908. According to family folklore, the ring was a present on my grandfather’s eighteenth birthday. I imagine that the ring was acquired at significant sacrifice, as my grandfather turned eighteen at the height of the Great Depression.

I cherish the ring. I look at it often, although I almost never wear it.

I think at some level we all struggle with finding authenticity in our lives—a meaning that transcends the day-to-day stuff and gives us an emotional and historical touchstone. My personal quest probably won’t end with my grandfather’s signet ring, but there is a gentle certainty in knowing that other than DNA, his ring is probably the only other thing in this world that my great grandfather, grandfather, father and I have shared—have touched. My son and hopefully his son will eventually share this memento and, through its modest presence, understand that they are part of something that is larger than themselves.

They will never know Harry Aft, nor will his ring ever convey his towering presence, steadfast work ethic or penchant for corny jokes. They will never understand his love of baseball and passion for fresh-squeezed orange juice. What I hope they will understand is that we value his life and understand its relation to our own. Further, I hope they understand that it is not merely the links that make a chain strong, but their interconnectedness that gives them permanence. Harry’s signet ring is my link.
— David Aft from Project Keepsake
Signed copies of Project Keepsake are available at Dave & Pauli's Art Emporium in downtown Dalton.

Signed copies of Project Keepsake are available at Dave & Pauli's Art Emporium in downtown Dalton.

But there's more to the story. David and Pauline recently opened Dave & Pauli’s Art Emporium (www.daveandpaulis.com), a working artist’s studio and art gallery specializing in creative works by local and regional artists in downtown Dalton. It’s open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Just a few days before opening the doors, they toured me through the gallery as if I was the Queen of England. The gallery explodes with bold, vibrant colors and interesting works, almost as if it is a living, breathing being pulsing with creativity. Upstairs, they've created an intimate music lounge like none other in Northwest Georgia. I was captivated—simply captivated!

And then I saw something familiar on their counter—something blue. I was speechless. I've had such a hard time getting the big book stores to carry Project Keepsake, but my friends jumped in and saved me. Dave & Pauli’s is the only place in Dalton offering Project Keepsake.

Thank you David, and thank you Pauline. You are great friends—real keepers—and I wish you every success with Dave & Pauli’s Art Emporium and in the other endeavors that fill your life from this day forward.

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Project Keepsake is on sale right now! FREE shipping and handling! Great gift item, especially for the holidays. Buy it right here right now, and I'll throw in a free bookmark.