Friday, August 20, 2010

My Old People

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.


  1. So lovely! I feel the same way about things that my father gave me before he passed away. I have an old pocketwatch that my aunt used when she was a nurse in a VA hospital in the 50's and 60's, and I treasure it, and it does help me feel closer to her memory. (Actually, I should write a blog entry about it, and include a photo, it's so beautiful.)

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. ellen, i would love to hear about that pocketwatch. And i know how close you were to your dad, so I know you understand.

    adventure grrl, thanks for stopping by and commenting! i loved your post about your uncle.

  3. oh, you are so loved . This is beautiful.

  4. Just found your blog, and what caught my eye was the spelling of your name. My mum spells my name the same, even though I am registered with just one L (maybe it's the Jamaican in her).

    This post fills me with so many memories of my dad and with the great summer we are having in NYC, it reminds of my childhood days, when my dad would see a beautiful sunny day and utter these words 'It's good to be alive'. Words that I now hold so dear to my heart.

    Thank you for the memory -x-

  5. angela, thank you so much for visiting and commenting. i hope you come by often. you know, i remember my dad sort of bouncing on his heels and saying the same thing when I was growing up. it is a lovely memory. enjoy the rest of your summer!