Wednesday, July 30, 2008
"Oh, oh, oooh!" shouts Big A, overcome at the sight within the box. "Oh my GAWD. It's soooo sparkly."
"Oh my goodness," I correct. But I skip the language lecture in favor of pulling out another drawer. One by one the pieces come out: Pink and blue beads, faux pearls, rhinestone bracelets, silver chains and golden bangles.
My mother's old jewelry box, guarded so well from a greedy daughter for many years. "Don't touch," she scolded when she caught me going through it. "Those are mine," she'd seethe. "You have no respect! You just break things."
Like a crow, I adore the shiny. So as a child, sometimes I snuck my mother's jewelry box into my bedroom. Sitting with my back against the door, I'd run fingers through the gold plated ID bracelets and costume gems. Once, calamity -- a stone was lost from an earring, so she knew. Whether it was the necklaces in her box or souvenirs and trinkets in the attic, she always seemed to discover my rummaging. "Stop snooping!" she'd growl, utterly frustrated.
And it was snooping. No postcard or scrapbook gone unread. I tried on every shoe, robe, and dress at the back of her closet. I knew where she stashed the Christmas presents every year. I could find the shoe box where letters she wrote to my father before their engagement were stacked. Curiously, I never found the letters he wrote to her. (Did she not bother to save them?)
To her it was all rudeness and invasion. My mother was stingy with so much more than her things. And so I went looking for some clue and trace of what I needed in dusty lockets and books instead. Then suddenly she died when I was 22, and the jewelry box was all mine.
Not quite knowing what to do, I packed it away and barely looked at those things over the past 15 years. Until yesterday, when for some reason, it just felt like it was time to take it out again.
So the girls will now enjoy my inheritance. And God willing, we will build a different one together.