My aunt, the one who lives in the Bahamas, sent some pieces of her jewelry with my mom, and asked her to give them to me and my daughter. For my girl there was a round, faceted crystal necklace and earrings to match. For me, there was a string of pearls so vivid you knew they were the real thing. "Why doesn't she give this to one of her daughters?" I asked my mom, confused. "She wants you to have it," my mom replied. "She said she gave other pieces to her girls."
Then my mom pulled out some jewelry boxes of her own. "I brought these for you," she said, handing me a black velvet box which contained diamond and emerald earrings and a necklace to match. "After we retired, I told your dad to give me emeralds if he wanted to give me jewelry, because that's your birth stone, and it would be going to you anyway." Then she proffered a blue hinged box. Inside was a silver tie clip with a small scrolled design that I remembered so well. It was the piece my dad wore every day, along with his decades-old round-faced watch, which my mom gave to my son some years ago. Sitting in a drawer in my mother's house in St. Lucia for the 14 years since my dad died, the tie clip had become a little tarnished. But there it was, a memento of my father, a thing he had touched every day.
I suddenly understood why my old people are trying to give away pieces of their lives. It is so that they will be remembered and thought of by those they have loved after they pass on. I recalled my Uncle Charlie offering his box of tools to my husband in the months before he died. That box of tools now sits in the back of our Jeep, and every time I look at it I remember my uncle.
I took the tie clip, and the pearls, and the diamonds and emeralds, and the crystal pieces. My aunt and my mother are not gone from this earth, not yet. Thank God, not yet. But I will cherish these offerings. Of course I would have remembered my old people without these objects. But holding my dad's tie clip I realized how much it will mean to have something they touched and enjoyed while they were alive. So I will cherish that they wanted to give these tokens to me and to my daughter, as I will cherish every moment that I still have with them here.