Generations of Jewelry

IMG_1244There was a package in the mail on Saturday, with the return address of my Aunt Muriel, and big $2 stamps plastered on the front.  Aunt Muriel is a writer, and for years we’ve exchanged news of our writing when we exchange holiday cards.  She was delighted when The Truth About Death was published, and I cheered for her when she had stories selected in local writing competitions and published in local papers.  It’s been a relationship of letters that I’ve valued, even though I haven’t seen her for 30 years or more.  I didn’t know what to expect in the package, since it’s past the usual holiday card exchange time frame.

Inside I found an ancient looking jewelry box, and a card.  The card read, “I have enjoyed keeping in touch with you and reading and empathizing with your work.  I am getting near the end of my life, and I have been going through and deciding what to do with different things and ‘treasures.’  I came across this piece that was made from Grandma McKinlay’s necklaces and I thought you might like to have it.  I hope having it will please you.”  I opened the box, which had been carefully taped shut, to find a necklace of shell beads.

Delighted with the gift, I brought the box and card to show Alison the next day, when we met to go skiing.  “Just look how old this box is.  What, maybe 50 years old?”

“Wait, I have a box just like that,” Alison said and went upstairs, coming back with a box that, though a big larger, was indeed very like the box Aunt Muriel sent me.  Alison opened the box to a pink and silver pin.

“My Aunt Jean gave me this at the end of her life,” Alison said.  “It’s a pin my mother gave her, and that she thought I’d like to have.”  Alison’s mother died when she was a child, and her Aunt Jean knew it would mean a lot to Alison to have something from her mother.  “There’s even a card,” Alison said, pulling out the small card behind the pin.  “My mother gave this to Aunt Jean for a birthday, and told her it would look good with her black and white dress.”

The fact that Alison and I will most likely never wear the jewelry our elderly aunts gave us doesn’t matter.  We both have “treasures” that we may pass along some day ourselves.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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