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I was sorting through my mom’s jewelry, and putting some of her favorite pins in a jewelry box, for her to take to the Assisted Living apartment. As I went through the boxes, where she had the jewelry meticulously organized, I felt like I was sneaking behind a closed door. Jewelry is so personal, and it says a lot about the person who wears it. (I could even still smell her perfume on some of the pieces.) Most of my mom’s accessories are just costume jewelry-only one or two pieces are worth monetary value, and yet as I handled it tonight, it was like gold, because it told the story of my mom. She’s a very tasteful, classy lady, but not “stuffy.” Alongside the rhinestone brooches, was also a pink airplane pin, a black cat, a fish, and an amazing tiger pin. She had carefully placed most of her things in individual boxes, but at this time of her life, I thought she would have an easier time of finding what she wanted, if I put most of it in a large, horizontal, easily viewable jewelry box. It turned out to be an enjoyable task, but a strangely sentimental one as well. I found a tarnished locket (and wondered if it was my grandmothers), several baby rings, and my brothers beads that spelled out “Holbrook” on what appeared to be his baby bracelet. (Not totally sure about that, but that is what it appeared to be, and all the letters were there, just not the string that connected them. But then I started wondering if it would have been safe to put a tiny beaded bracelet on a baby. But I think they used to do it all the time in the hospital nurseries. Haven’t been around newborns much lately to notice.) There was also a silver dollar necklace that I had seen my dad wear, and some acknowledgement pins that my mom got, while working for the government.

I was amazed to see how little jewelry she actually had. It always seems like more, when you’re around the person. ( I did find a necklace of blue crystal beads that had thrilled me as a little girl.)  As I displayed her pins in the jewelry box, I realized that I had bought many of them for her. She also likes bracelets a lot, and I’ve bought her quite a few of those lately. Now that she has lost weight, her wrist is so tiny, that I usually have to just buy the expandable ones, and sometimes those are still too large. So I get her to try them on, and then I sneak and buy what fits. She doesn’t much care for necklaces, and I only found a very few of those.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life these days, and what we leave behind as a legacy. In our family, there won’t be much of value by the world’s standards. I get my mom’s pig collection (lol), and my brother gets the grandfather clock. Unfortunately, I’m not at all crazy about pigs, and my brother’s dog chewed up the leg on the clock, but such as it is–that’s our tangible inheritance.

But our intangible inheritance is worth more than diamonds. We have witnessed strength and true grit in both my dad and my mom. When I think of Sam, I think of strength, a multitude of talents, and a tender heart.  (I always felt that he could fix the world if it broke.) I miss him every single day. When I think of my mom, I think of courage in the midst of great trials, and a determination to see things through (and not give up.) She’s also stubborn as all get-out–but the positive side of that is tenacity.

I know that sorting through her jewelry, will only be the beginning of the things that I will have to sift through, in order to get her moved. So many memories…It will be a process of weeding through the unnecessary, in order to find the necessary (as well as some terrific treasures.) For what fun is life, if it is all necessity? So of course, I made sure that I got her Betty Boop Christmas ornament packed for the new apartment. (It was found among her prized possessions.) Some things you just can’t live without…

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