Monday, July 15, 2013

The Value of Old Jewelry

Today, my brother brought over a large box of jewelry that had belonged to my Grandma. We all gathered around my mother's dining table to look at it all.

Before the box opened, my sister and I had each said we didn't want anything more from her estate. We have lots of things from my grandma. I think we both feel overwhelmed at all the volume. My brother had said that his girls might like something from the box. Everyone found a place at the table, especially the girls, my grandma's great grandkids, and my brother put one piece after another on the table. 

I was surprised at how many of the pieces I could remember her wearing. I figured there would be a grab for those things. I quietly drew a couple of things near me. There was a photo button photo that my sister and I put half way between us, one of our great aunt when she was young. 

There were few collisions of desire. Only twice did we need to flip a coin to decide. Everyone had their little stash to match their own style. We all talked and looked and looked again. Some things sat in the middle of the table, but not much.

My sister encouraged our sister-in-law to find some things she liked. It took her a while, but she set a few things aside. 
I noticed that one of my nieces gravitated toward the pearls. Another took a large pin of a flower and brown and green beads. 

There was a pin, a simple gold circle that my grandma had worn a lot. I remember her saying, "Fred gave me this and he told me it's a lot like love. It goes around and around and it never ends." I liked it, but I could imagine it better on my sister. After sitting between us for a while, I pushed it into her pile. After a while, I noticed that she'd pushed the photo button into mine. 

My brother put on a pair of clip-ons, big orange beads that must have come from the seventies. We talked about how, after taking items that meant something, we should take what caught the eye, even if it didn't remind us of Grandma. Why not?

I put a ring on that I liked. It had three small stones in it, diamonds or cubic zirconium. I have no idea. Then Nick, who was mostly content with a pocket watch and a heavy chain watched me put it on my finger and take it off again as I wondered if i was grabbing the most expensive item from the table. He leaned toward me to whisper in my ear. 

"Mom, maybe I can take a ring, like that one maybe, to give to my wife to get married some day," he said. "We could keep that in the family that way."

For a minute, I couldn't breathe. I had to turn away from the table where everyone was gathered. I pictured him on one knee, holding that ring. He reached out and hugged me hard and held on for a minute. Still, I couldn't catch my breath. My eyes brimmed over. I buried my face in his hair and he patted my back while I gathered myself together. Laughter continued behind us as I wiped my eyes.

This was the reason, at least for me, why we needed to be there, looking through a pile of mostly costume jewelry and wondering at its value. 

Thank you for listening, jb

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