The fact is, our lives have been average. We've buried good dogs together, totaled two trucks, and lost one mobile home.

When I asked her to marry me. I gave her the world’s tiniest diamond.

I bought the ring with cash I’d hoarded in an Altoids tin. I walked into the jeweler and said, “Give me whatever this’ll buy.”

He said, “This is the smallest diamond we got, sir.”

I left with a small box and a promise to pay the twenty-seven-dollars I still owed.

She wore a red blouse the night I fumbled my proposal. It surprised me when she said yes. She could’ve married a man of means—or at least someone with a nicer truck.

Instead, she got a rock the size of an Oxford comma.

To celebrate, we ate at one of those meat-and-three places. We ran into my uncle. Jamie showed him the ring.

He squinted and said, “Lord, if that thing were any smaller it’d belong in a saltshaker.”


Our wedding was in December, our honeymoon landed on Christmas. I wanted to get her a gift, so I bought a carriage ride and a carton of ice cream.

We moved into an apartment the size of a turnip crate. We ate Hamburger Helper for suppers. We had no internet, cellphones, or cable. Instead, we played poker on the floor using Cheez-Its.

She taught preschool. I crawled on people’s roofs with a hammer. In the evenings, we’d eat supper and say painfully corny things like: “I can’t believe we’re really married, can you?”

“Don’t it beat all?” the other would say. “You want some ice cream?”

You bet your Barbie Ring I do.

Then, we’d sit in the den eating, watching a console television I’d salvaged from a roadside garbage pile. When the picture got fuzzy, Jamie would cuss and kick until it improved—making her popular with the downstairs neighbors.

The fact is, our lives have been average. We’ve buried good dogs together, totaled two trucks, and lost one mobile home.

Last spring, they found a lump in her. They took her in for tests. A nurse led us into a sterile room and asked her to remove all jewelry. I tried to be tough.

I failed.

Jamie took off her ring. I’d forgotten how small the thing was. All I could think about were red blouses, carriage rides, and console televisions.

“Please take good care of that,” she said, laying it in my palm. “It’s the most valuable thing I’ve ever had.”

And when they took her away, wearing her god-awful gown, sitting in that god-forsaken wheelchair, I said the same thing to God.

And even though the Big Man doesn’t owe me nary a thing in this life, sometimes I look at that puny ring…

And remember He’s held up his end of the bargain.


  1. Serena C Low - October 31, 2016 1:59 pm

    I’ve read this story twice – I like starting my mornings with it. …better then, writing in my gratitude journal. Thanks.

  2. Lynn Fanelli - October 31, 2016 5:34 pm

    This article brought tears to my eyes young man! Thank you

  3. Sherry Walling - December 14, 2016 3:05 pm

    Sean I stumble and fumble for the words to express my gratitude for the honour of reading your extremely heartfelt writings. Thank you so much for sharing your gift of coming straight from the heart to us. What a blessing you really are.

  4. Tom Lashley - December 14, 2016 3:44 pm

    Loved this story and all your writing. You get to the heart of things and what is really important. Merry Christmas!

  5. Betsy - December 14, 2016 4:31 pm

    You better let us know how she’s doing now. She’s a keeper and I know you know that!

  6. jane - December 14, 2016 5:27 pm

    The paths of our marriages have run parallel. 45 years this Christmas eve we will still smile down on our own “salt shaker diamond” and reminisce about the tiny trailer we moved into so my tiny diamond would feel right at home. Since then we have raised three children and traveled the world. Thanks for reminding us what the most valuable thing we have is each other.

  7. Anne H - December 14, 2016 5:48 pm

    I love reading your stories and love the simple life I have with my husband. I too had some health issues, was cancer but has all been removed, at my age I don’t need those parts anymore (baby box stuff). But when I saw my husbands eyes with tears in them the day we found out what it was and the day the doctor said it had not spread yet because we caught it early I knew just how much that man loved me. You see I have a small diamond too on my band and it will forever shine bright in my heart.

  8. Charlene - December 14, 2016 7:31 pm

    God kept his part of the bargain for 50 years almost to the day, and life hasn’t even come close to what it was since “death do us part” became a reality 4 years ago. I’m grateful for what we had but lonely for what I don’t have now.

  9. Diana Ross - December 14, 2016 9:31 pm

    Another very well written piece, Sean. You are excellent at evoking mood, in fact, I think it is your best quality as a writer. I never miss any of your posts, which is why I need to be editing them.
    They ‘speak to me.”
    And so do you.


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