Yesterday was Father’s Day. My sister and I decided to celebrate with my father at his apartment, the first family gathering there since my mother passed away nearly four months ago. With my 19-year old niece home from college for the summer and my 15-year old daughter about to leave for camp, it seemed like a good time for us to go through my mother’s jewelry.
Except for her wedding ring, my mother was not much of a jewelry wearer. She did not have pierced ears, and and most of what she had was costume jewelry, sparkly but not valuable. When we were children, she put on jewelry mainly when she was dressing up, so we recognized a few of the fancier pieces, but couldn’t even recall her wearing many of the others. In her later years, she would occasionally wear a gold chain, or one with a small charm.
We had fun spreading everything out on the dining room table and sharing a few memories. The girls tried on everything and started picking out their favorites. My sister and I took a couple of pieces, but the item that most captured my interest was a small box containing an ankle bracelet that I had never seen before. The chain was broken, but the charm was in perfect shape. It consists of two connected hearts, one with my mother’s name and one with my father’s. On the reverse is the date: 1-1-49, when my mother was 18 and and my father was 19. It was two years before they married.
How had I never seen this before? I would have loved to get my mother’s story of how she felt when he gave it to her, and how often she wore it.
It made me think of an item that I found in my mother’s bedroom night table shortly after she died. Mixed in among the boxes of stationery and note cards was a light brown leather pouch with a still-functional snap. It measures around 4 1/2 by 6 1/2 inches, and stamped on it in gold are the words “RATION BOOKS”. It is very worn.
Why did my mother save this piece of World War II memorabilia for over 60 years? What did it mean to her? What were her memories of using ration coupons?
I urge you to spend some time with your loved ones going over the items that are meaningful to you and sharing the stories behind them. If you have items you no longer use but which you think your loved ones would like to have, give them away now. My mother would have enjoyed seeing her granddaughters trying on her jewelry and getting excited about wearing it.