When I pass a mirror, I see my aging face, and in my mind’s eye, I see the reflection of the loved ones who presented me with each piece of jewelry over the years.
I have a decorative jewelry box filled with fine gold chains in many lengths and a drawer filled with several individual, significant, diamond-embellished charms that I received for Mother’s Days, birthdays, or other holidays. If I ever decided to wear them all at one time, I would really make a statement. Strangers would know that I am the BEST, a #1 mom, friend, nana, and very loved wife. I wear the charms and chains individually at different times. When I pass a mirror, I see my aging face, and in my mind’s eye, I see the reflection of the loved ones who presented me with each piece of jewelry over the years.
There’s one piece of costume jewelry that means more to me than silver, gold, or diamonds. I don’t even remember where I got the pendant locket which hangs at my heart level on a long, thick chain. I’ll never forget why it is so important to me and increases in value as I get older. The faux gold, filigree miniature coin purse has a clasp that allows the tiny purse to open and close. I imagine that years ago, the former owner, a young lady, must have stashed a dime inside for an emergency phone call, or perhaps a grandmother sprayed a cotton ball with Evening in Paris cologne, and tucked it inside, leaving a lingering scent as she rocked a baby. I sometimes placed a penny or an M&M inside for my grandchildren to discover when they were small.
Madison was three years old when she reached for my locket and attached immeasurable value to that piece of “junque” jewelry. Maddie was an early talker who went from one-word utterance to stringing, not sentences, but entire paragraphs. She was a verbose, smart little girl with strawberry blonde curls that bobbed when she carried on lengthy conversations. Her big blue eyes stole hearts, and she was never at a loss for words.
I had just returned home from a particularly exhausting day in a classroom filled with three-year-olds. I looked forward to kicking off my shoes and lying on the couch for half an hour. I opened the front door, and our bubbly little girl greeted me with a high pitched, delighted squeal. “Hi Nana, I’ve been waiting all day with Paw-paw for you to get home from school. I couldn’t wait to see you. Mama dropped me off.” So, that is why I didn’t know we had company. There was no car in the driveway. I smiled, but honestly, what I thought was, “Not another three-year-old!” What I said was, “Hi honey, let me put my school bag down and hug you.”
As I sat on the couch, I wished I could have stretched out and laid my head down on my soft, powder blue throw pillow for just a moment to rejuvenate. Madison jumped up on my lap and started fondling my locket. “Open it, Nana. Open it right now. Let me see what’s in your little purse necklace. Can I? Please? I know there has to be something good in there. I just know it because I know lots of things that could fit in there. Is it…?” She guessed every tiny thing under the sun. Overwhelmed, exhausted, and having used up almost all my patience in class, I told her, “Honey, there is nothing inside today. I didn’t put anything in here. You just have to believe me.”
“Oh yes there is. I know! It could be a…” There she went again as she tugged at it, adding to my irritability. I reached for the stack of mail and tried to reposition her. She was insistent, and finally, I lost my last bit of patience. A little too harshly, I said, “Honey, there is nothing inside the purse necklace. I already told you.” Life would have been so much easier had I just walked into the kitchen and sneaked an M&M into the locket. But then if I had restocked it, the locket would not be as special to me as it is today.
Madison pushed me further over the edge. Coyly, she cocked her head and fluttered her eyelashes. Then instead of using her insistent voice, her words poured out as sweet as syrup, and she said, “Oh Naaanaaaa, I knooow there is something inside your little purse necklace. I’m really sure. Want me to show you?” Before I could protest, she said, “I know you don’t have an M&M, or a penny, or… “ She went in reverse naming all the things that couldn’t be inside. I snapped. I am ashamed to admit that I had reached my boiling point. I raised my voice, flipped the latch, and flung the little purse locket wide open. “I told you, honey, there is NOTHING inside. SEE!”
The kid wouldn’t quit. Very softly and sweetly, in a little sing-song voice, she said with authority, “Oh yes there is something inside. It’s God’s love. God’s love is everywhere, Nana. I learned that in Sunday School.” Stunned into a shamed silence, I hugged her to me and agreed 100% that she was absolutely, positively right. On my way to the kitchen, I bowed my head in shame and silently asked for forgiveness. I returned and presented our girl with an entire bag of M&Ms.
Sometimes it’s not the silver, gold, or expensive jewels that hold the most value, but the stories attached to the particular pieces that make them priceless.