I had two spinster aunts. They lived together most of their lives in their peaceful and single existence, a little like two lesbians without the sex. One definitely the masculine, Daphne, the other more feminine, Marian.
One year, after a visit home, my mum and dad were packing and Marian in her generosity presented my Dad with a tiny ring. A little gold, delicate ring with a cluster of tiny diamond chips. It wasn't worth much but to her had some sentimental value as it belonged to their mother. The ring was given as a gift for me upon their return.
As was often the case, mum and dad came back from their trip, homesickness for my mother sated and Dad happy to be back in the warmth of Australia. They'd bring little treats such as duty free perfume and Walnut Whips from Marks and Spencers, Lemon Bon Bons and trinkets from their travels.
This particular trip, my father was especially proud because he had a special gift for me, given as an heirloom. A tiny diamond ring. Inconsequential to me as I'm not really a 'jewellery' person but a nice thought to have a family heirloom to keep and perhaps pass on to my daughter at the appropriate time so I was very pleased indeed.
Well, they turned their bags inside out and upside down and I guess a combination of jet lag and fury, my father couldn't work out what the hell had happened to the ring. He remembered Marion giving it to him as they were packing. He remembered the box it was in and he remembered carefully wrapping it in a sock and securing it into one of his shoes for safe keeping.
First the customs and baggage handlers were blamed but the locks on his valise were intact. No customs 'search' notification on the bag and he hadn't been asked to open bags upon arrival in Australia and nothing looked as if it had been disturbed when he first opened his suitcase, so that was ruled out.
Then he began to doubt himself. Perhaps he hadn't packed it. Perhaps it was left on the bed where they'd lain their cases but my mum assured him that she saw him wrap the box and put it into his shoe. So absent-mindedness was also ruled out.
"Daphne!" he said quite emphatically, "That bitch has taken it out". I've never heard my father speak that way about any woman, let alone his sister but the bitterness went back further than I realised. She had long been jealous of his relationship with my mother it seemed. Even to the point of splashing his coat with perfume once in the hope that my mother would think him unfaithful, soon after they'd first met. She didn't attend their wedding and for over 30 years I was oblivious to any tension between them but clearly it had been there.
He was on the 'phone in a heartbeat and talking to both sisters about the ring. Where was it? What's the point of giving something only to take it back? Had Daphne repossessed it and opened his luggage? Accusations flew far and wide and neither side was giving quarter. They swore they hadn't touched it, he swore someone had removed it from its secure and snug home in his valise.
Years went by, I mean many years. Daphne died. Marion came to Australia and lived here for a few years until she too passed and many a gin and whisky driven argument between her and my Dad raised the sore point of the ring. She denied any knowledge of its removal and even said that she'd quizzed Daphne about it many times. Daphne had always stood her ground. Marian did admit that Daphne hadn't been happy about it being 'given away' even to her niece! Families are funny things.
It never surfaced, no reason for its disappearance. I hoped it might be discovered when we finally cleared out my Dad's stuff after he too died, perhaps buried deep in one of his old shoes, wrapped neatly in one of his old socks. But no. There was no sign of the little gold diamond cluster. It's just one of those mysteries that we'll never unravel. Or one with an answer that was clearly taken to the grave!
Unravel more mysterious moments with Theme Thursday!