Accessories of My Heart

By Beth M. Wood

“Can I wear one of your necklaces, mama?” My seven year-old daughter has always been into jewelry. She had her ears pierced for her sixth birthday and in the year since has amassed a selection of earrings to rival her grandmother’s. But more than just a fascination, my jewelry is a touchstone for Ella. When we are apart, whether she is at school, or spending time with her dad, it calms her to have something of mine in her possession.

When I was Ella’s age, I’d watch my own mother get dressed. Whether she was heading to work or out with my father, her ritual was the same. She’d carefully pick out her clothes before showering, then style her hair and apply make-up before sitting down at her dressing table to add the piece de resistance. She’d pull her jewelry box close to her, slowly lift the lid, and run her finger over the pieces before selecting which to wear.

My mom had not one but several jewelry boxes, large and small, and trinkets set about that held the overflow of earrings, brooches, necklaces and bracelets. Like her, I was a slave to fashion. But, unlike my own daughter, I never wanted to wear my mom’s jewelry. I just never felt comfortable in chunky statement necklaces, big bangles, and especially those big pins my mom would stick to her lapel. There are certain pieces I loved and remember her wearing more than others – the simple strand of pearls, diamond earrings, her wedding ring, which was later replaced with a grandmother’s ring – a large band on which nestled all of our birth stones. And of course, the green pin with the white bubble letters – E.R.A. She wore that one all the way through the eighties.

Ella’s tug on my arm brings me back to the task at hand. She needs a piece of my jewelry to wear to her daddy’s house. “I don’t really have much, honey,” I tell her. But, I pull the jewelry box into my lap and sit with her on my big, four-poster bed.

As I lift the lid, she peers in, eyes wide, at necklaces, earrings, and bracelets nestled in with other odds and ends. Ella’s little blond head and my brown, curly one huddle over the box, and we ooh and ahh together over the lost treasures. An add-a-bead necklace my mom had given me for my thirteenth birthday, the little tooth-shaped plastic container in which hides my oldest son’s first lost tooth. The necklace my best friend sent to me from her new home across the country – a silver chain on which is a miniature plaque, inscribed with the words “…just look beside you and I’ll be there.” As I run a thin, manicured finger over each piece, I am transported back in time…

I am a seventeen-year old high school student, in white cap and gown, lining up to receive my diploma. “I am so proud,” my father assures me, as he clasps a heart-shaped diamond necklace around my neck.

I am a twenty-two year old marketing assistant out to dinner with my live-in boyfriend. Over dessert, he pulls out a ring. I can’t hear a word he says over the pounding of my heart, but I smile through my tears and say, “Yes.”

I am a young mom, 38 weeks pregnant with baby number two, feeling uncomfortable and unattractive. My father hands me a velvet box inside of which is a beautiful tennis bracelet. “For giving me another grandchild to love,” he says simply.

I am a harried single mom of three, constantly at odds with my emotional middle son, Jack. On this, the first birthday I celebrate without their dad, Jack hands me a small box. Inside rests a leather bracelet with a silver bar, on which is inscribed, “I love you more.”

I am a forty-year-old birthday girl. My mom hands me a small box. Inside, lying in the aged, velvet lining is a pair of pearl earrings. The card reads, “These were my mother’s. I know she’d want you to have them.”

My daughter’s voice brings me back to the present. “Can I, mama?” she asks, holding up a faux-pearl bracelet. “Sure, honey,” I say. And as I slide it onto her tiny wrist, I wonder; maybe my mom’s jewelry isn’t just a bunch of eye candy. Maybe those pieces hold special memories for her, too.

One week later, on the morning of Ella’s seventh birthday, I hand her a long, thin box wrapped in hot pink paper. Inside she pulls out two necklaces. They are the two halves of one heart, on which, when put together, reads “Mother & Daughter.” One is for her, the other, mine. And as I fasten it around her neck, I realize that I’ve just added another beautiful memory to my collection.

As it turns out, I do love jewelry. Not as much for its inherent beauty, as for the memories they hold. These are more than just accessories, these pieces tell the story of me: family, friendship, love. This jewelry box holds the accessories of my heart.

About this writer

  • Beth M. Wood Beth M. Wood is an award-winning marketer, freelance writer and mom of three. Her social media addiction pays the bills and steady copywriting gigs feed her shopping habit. She blogs about marketing and social media at bethmwoodblog.com, digresses about life and parenting at bethmwood.blogspot.com and tweets @a1972bmw.

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9 Responses to “Accessories of My Heart”

  1. Phyllis Fredericksen says:

    Ms. Wood continues to evoke strong feelings in her writing about everyday things. This piece is beautifully written and reminds us that family and friends are jewels beyond price.

  2. Bethe Brightfield says:

    Love the article-so glad your mom sent the link.

  3. Beth-This is such a sweet story, and brings back memories of my own childhood.

    And Phyllis is right. Family and friends ARE the valuable jewels that adorn our lives; you cleverly made the connection between the material jewels and the memories they contain.

  4. This is a beautiful piece. Just beautiful.

  5. Jill Goldstein says:

    What a beautiful article. It brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of my mother and the times I would go through her jewelry box. Thank you Phyllis and Beth.

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