Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bracelet Love!

I've been wearing this little arm party regularly since January, when my Mom gave me the middle bracelet, having given one to each of my sisters and sisters-in-law at Christmas. Her oddities around gift-giving would require a whole separate post, but let's just say she seldom did retailed gifts, and she hasn't bothered about Christmas or birthday ones at least since my Dad died over a decade ago. Some of this lack of observance had to do with failing memory and with the decline of the cognitive abilities it takes to form and execute a plan. So when my sister found out that Mom had talked to her local jeweler about ordering bracelets for 9 of us (Oh Happy Day, that small business owner must have said!), she was surprised, impressed, and determined to help her make the plan work.

Mom wanted the bracelets to be similar to a vintage one she always wore, and that we often admired. Also silver and covered with a tracery of vines, leaves, and flowers, it was a thinner sheet of silver, folded into a tube/cylinder and then gently curved, if you can follow my crude description. And it closed, and then had a short fine silver chain dangling from it, ready to keep it on the hand should the clasp open accidentally. (It's one of the few things of hers I really wanted to have, as we sorted after the funeral, and I brought it home with me -- haven't worn it yet, but I will show you a picture in a future post. Promise!)

When she asked the jeweler about these, she was told that hers was dated (well, duh! did I mention vintage?) and that the more contemporary ones above were what her daughters would surely prefer. I must say that I find mine rather anodyne, blandly pretty, particularly in comparison to my beloved carved silver First Nations bracelet, whose shape and carving it reminds me of. I would never choose it on my own, especially since my own is wider and stronger-looking, and has become so much a constant in my daily wearing.

But that my Mother got the idea of giving all of us a silver bracelet, that she then went to the jeweler to pick them out, then got my sister to help her pay for them (it got too difficult, eventually, to remember passwords and keep cards in a safe place, and Mom had reluctantly surrendered financial independence months and months earlier), then picked them up and got them home ready for giving, then panicked at not remembering where she put them -- the classic Where Is the Safe Place I Put that In So I Wouldn't Lose It? becomes much more of a problem in cognitive decline . . .

I heard about the bracelets at Christmas -- we gathered with our own family while my sibs and their families did their traditional Christmas Eve at my sister's, but I saw the picture of my sisters and sisters-in-law all putting their bracelet arms, hokey-pokey style, into the camera's view. Mom's in the photo, beaming. And she beamed again weeks later when she gave me my bracelet. At that visit, in late January, my sister M had driven her to my daughter's where Mom again cuddled her great-granddaughter Harriet, and pronounced again "What a Beautiful Baby" she is.  And she listened, very content, as we ooh-ed and aah-ed my bracelet and marvelled once more that she'd pulled the whole coup off.

And the following week, we got the diagnosis that the cancer was on the prowl again. . .

I have many other ways to remember her love, but the bracelet is tangible, at hand, if you'll pardon the pun. I find that its sweet blandness gets an edge that I prefer when I combine it with two other Christmas gifts: one from Pater, a gold bracelet with a killer whale motif, carved by Haida artist James McGuire; one from my daughter Rhiannon, a charmingly simple strand of gold beads on a leather lace, by Michael Kors. Of the latter, I have to say that this daughter is really hitting her gift-giving stride!

And it was to her, to my daughter Rhiannon, that I sent the photo above, from my phone, a couple of weeks ago. Just a quick text to show her how much her gift pleased me, and how perfectly it works together with the other two.

Wish I could send one to my Mom as well. Instead, I'm posting this little vignette, and who knows, perhaps at the edge of cyberspace, the metaphysical, the spiritual, all our love and intentions and memories mix together into . . . What? Who Knows?  I find I'm not quite ready to surrender my one-time belief that our souls persist, despite my intellectual convictions against . . .

Meanwhile, I'm wearing my arm party of love . . .

Happy Weekend!

33 comments:

  1. Your arm party looks great. I love the juxtaposition of the pieces together. The deeply carved First Nations bracelet (dare I swoon!)
    And the fine feathered one with the stunning beaded affair.
    I must action my own arm party now.

    I think the act of getting these bracelets made for all of you was your Mother's way of saying that you are forever linked as a family. I applaud the efforts that it took for her to arrange this before she left.

    I feel very strongly that things like this happen for a reason.

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    1. I know you love to mix up your silver bracelets, many of those gifts, so you know how I'll appreciate mine. And isn't that impressive of my Mom, setting that up to leave us such a lasting message of love?!

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  2. Beautiful post! And what a fantastic gift...

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  3. Beautiful post. I love that your mom came up with this gift for all of you.

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  4. Beautiful bracelet and beautiful story.
    Several years ago my mother began to make gifts of her loveliest jewelry to we three daughters. She took such pleasure in doing this - choosing what would suit each of us best. As her memory fails she does't recall any of this, but I love to wear her pieces, remember her wearing them and how happy she was.

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    1. My mom did some of this as well, although in some cases, then she'd wonder where a certain piece was, forgetting she'd gifted it. Lovely to wear these pieces now, though, just as you say. . .

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  5. I should have said that my grandfather (who died when I was 21) was a jeweler (from Italy, emigrated to NYC) and I still wear a number of his pieces. One ring I never take off. I do feel like his spirit persists in those pieces. People comment on them ALL the time. And, I've only ever had one dream that was, as opposed to psychologically and metaphorically interesting, a journey to another time and place. It was years after my grandfather died and I met him in a valley, teaming with trees, at a roadside cafe. I can tell you it was not meta. I wasn't invested in that experience. But it was profound. It's never happened again. I don't so much remember what we talked about, anymore, it was more about the experience of proximity and closure.

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  6. Oh, and since I can't stop commenting: I've had many dreams about him that were totally meta. Also beautiful and profound so I want to clarify that I know the difference.

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    1. This is an amazing dream. Does that valley resemble the part of Italy he emigrated from at all, or at least as much as you'd ever had that described to you? Sounds as if he was an important figure in your life . . . and continues to be.

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    2. No, it doesn't. It's like no place I've ever heard of or seen - but it wasn't abnormal.

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  7. The bracelets do look interesting together. It sounds as though it was a great effort for your mother to get the bracelets for 9 of you. She must have thought of it as a way of being united. I do believe that our souls live on through the love of those who were dear to us. One day, you will pass that bracelet on to Nola or Harriet (with the Harriet story) and the other 8 will pass theirs on and your mother's last gesture of love will continue.

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    1. We have wondered what initiated her impulse, but yes, somehow I think she saw it as a way of sending her love forward and keeping us bonded. And I do wonder which of the next generations might wear the bracelets and how much of the story will continue to be told of them.

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  8. The bracelets do look lovely together, and it's nice to have those pieces that have such a story, even if they aren't something we'd choose for ourselves. It's funny but I've had a few pieces like that which I've let slip away, and find myself missing them more than those I'd picked out and loved.

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    1. Yes, pieces with important stories attached have a power to comfort as much as delight, don't they?!

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  9. Yes, the bracelets do look wonderful together. It's almost better that the one from your mom has less aesthetic personality than the other two. It stands out more that way.

    It sounds as though your mother somehow knew what was coming, and used her last mental powers to make this happen. She loved you. As you do your daughter, and she loves you.

    xoxoxox

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    1. I think so as well, Lisa. Although she certainly wasn't letting on that she saw herself diminishing back when she was preparing her secret surprise, and although she hadn't had that diagnosis yet, I think her intuition must have pushed her to making her plan and carrying it out so impressively. And those bracelets have captured not only that intuition but the love you speak of . . .

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  11. Beautiful bracelets! On the day of my mom's funeral two years ago, my dad asked my five sisters and I to go to my parents' house so that we could divide all of my mom's jewelry. It was hard to do. None of us wanted to be the first to take something but we eventually did it. It had been years that I hadn't worn yellow goal but I took my mom's gold bracelet and chain. To this day, I have been wearing the bracelet no matter what I wear or do. It is like she is still close to me and I get some comfort from that. Keep enjoying the bracelet that she gave you and wear the one that she use to wear since it is a good way to be connected with your mom.

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    1. Welcome, and thanks for commenting! I'm finding the various readers' comments about their mothers' jewelry quite moving -- it doesn't really seem to matter to any of us that our tastes are/were different. As with you wearing yellow gold despite it not having been your preference, I find I see, more and more, what it was that made this bracelet a choice for Mom, and that connection with her transcends the aesthetics.

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  12. What a lovely story. My version of your bracelet is a Claddagh ring, which belonged to my mother, and which she wore all the time alongside her wedding ring. Not my sort of thing at all - I always thought the design cliched and a bit cloying. But when she died a decade ago, and my father immediately handed over her jewellery to me, I put on the ring and have worn it constantly ever since. It reminds me of her, of course, and also, in some odd way, I feel that a little bit of her has travelled with it and with me in everything I've done over that time. Clearly, your mother's last gift has a very special significance for you, and how wonderful to be able to have so close to you for as long as you need it that tangible reminder of her love.
    Rosemary

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary, for sharing your story, another example of the comfort in a mother's jewelry. And another example of getting over our aesthetic fussiness to see something that our departed loved one saw. . . .and to carry them with us. . .

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  13. The bracelets together are beautiful together, and I like the way the bracelet from your mother softens and unites the other two bracelets, although it seems like it would be but a little slip of nothing on its own. The pattern seems like a simplification of a bracelet I have that was my own mother's.

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  14. The bracelets together are beautiful together, and I like the way the bracelet from your mother softens and unites the other two bracelets, although it seems like it would be but a little slip of nothing on its own. The pattern seems like a simplification of a bracelet I have that was my own mother's.

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    1. Exactly! It isn't much on its own, but I love it in combination. I'll be interested to see, when I post a picture of the one that she first wanted copied for us, if it's similar to your mom's.

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  15. I love this story. What a beautiful memory you have of your mother's last tangible gift to you.
    Wearing the bracelets together is a way to meld their varying styles into something uniquely you.

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    1. Something in the way you've phrased this really struck me, Lorrie. I think I do like this combo so much because it takes something of my Mom and makes it mine, makes part of her become part of me. Thank you!

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  16. I love the fact that she made this happen despite all the difficulties. What strength of character and of love for you all.

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. I do think this gift really testifies to her strength of character and to her love for us.

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  17. I prefer jewelry that carries memories, or symbolizes something- often the style is the least important factor. What a lovely medley of loving gifts. What determination and spirit your mother had to pull that off.

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  18. I am moved by your mom's effort to do something special for the daughters and daughters-in-law she loved, and I'm happy that you've found comfort in wearing it. In human history, one of the earliest reasons for wearing jewelry and other adornments was the power they conferred on the wearer -- and in your three bracelets it's clear that the power is love.

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    1. I like your anthropological observation about the roots of our adorning ourselves. I often get hooked on a piece's talismanic properties, even though I know mine is magical thinking . . .

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