Monday, January 12, 2015

1.12.15 Happy birthday, Mom

This is my mom.  Today would have been her 74th birthday, but she died 10 days before turning 61.  Since she's not here to celebrate for herself, I'm going to fête her with this post.

In this photo, she's 52 years old - the same age that I am now.  Sometimes, when I catch a glimpse of my reflection I see her rather than myself - it used to freak me out a little bit, but these days I'm just fine with it.

A few months before she died, she insisted I sit down with her at the kitchen table and go through all her jewelry - piece by piece.  I resisted at first, I didn't want to admit what she had already accepted - she was dying.

As was almost always the case, she was right and I was wrong. Going through each item, reminiscing about where she got it, when she wore it, and how I remembered it - was one of the best afternoons I ever had with her.

I refused to take any of the jewelry before she died, but after the funeral, my dad insisted it go home with me. For the longest time, I couldn't bring myself to wear much of it - there were just many painful associations.  I kept thinking "I shouldn't be wearing this, Mom should."

It took a few years (yes, years) but finally I came to the realization that none of the jewelry was doing anyone any good locked away in the safe deposit box, and leaving it there wasn't going to bring her back.   I decided I would finally start to wear it.  However, when I did, I realized not all of it was really my style - for one thing, I prefer white metals (silver, white gold or platinum) and almost all her pieces were set in yellow gold.

I had an extended conversation with the fine folks at Russell Korman Jewelers, and with the help of their dedicated staff and master jeweler, Chuck Schaffer, things that weren't quite right for me in their previous form have since been transformed into wonderful pieces - for me, my daughter and my niece.
The first two pieces were earrings - a pair for myself and a pair for my daughter's 16th birthday.  I realize now, that it was in the process of resetting the diamonds - and giving them "new life" - that it first occurred to me that there could be (for me) more to jewelry than just buying and wearing it. 

I had Mom's solitaire stud earrings reset as dangles (because I have a beautiful pair of solitaires, that were a gift from my husband for my 40th birthday) in what Brooke at Russell Korman calls a "martini" setting - because it looks sort of like a martini glass.  I wear them often, and when I do - I feel like I have Mom with me.

For my daughter, I took some smaller diamonds, from a pair of channel set earring jackets, and had them put in a "flower"setting.  I know they make my very daughter happy, and I like to think Mom would be pleased, too. 

So, happy birthday Mom, you were like a diamond in so many ways - strong, brilliant, beautiful and rare.

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