I keep my jewelry in a large wooden box and a hodgepodge of smaller ones. I have the usual collection for someone of my age and lot in life — tarnished silver chains; my mother’s garnet pin; an assortment of broken bracelets; my grandmother’s long strand of jet beads; some nice pieces that I’ve been given as gift over the years.
Amid the rubble, I find a few gems: The blue earrings which my sister Joyce gave me to wear in her wedding when I was fourteen; the little mother-of-pearl ring that my son bought for me in North Carolina with his vacation spending money when he was twelve; a little music box that used to be on a key chain.
My godmother gave me that key chain. I don’t remember much about her. A face comes to mind, framed in crisp brown curls from overnight rollers worn under a scarf. Kind eyes. Smiling lips. I have no idea if what I recall matches reality.
I wind the little brass knob and depress the switch. Tinny music fills the quiet of my house. I strain to recognize the song. It eludes me. I play it for the Google lady. She tells me that she cannot find a close match. An expected sorrow overtakes me.
I lift a little stone from one crevice. I’m sure my son gave it to me, so long ago that he will not remember. We would have gone to the rock store on Friday night. He would have lifted a handful of shiny gems from a deep bin on a round display. His small hands closed around this one, this very one, and slid it into a velveteen bag. A jewel for you, Mom! he cried, triumphantly. He counted out his money for the clerk. We left the store, his small hand in mine. When we got home, I put the little stone into my jewelry box. It has been waiting for me all these years.
Night has fallen around me. The world has grown quiet. I gather everything and carefully stow it all away, wrapped in velvet, nestled among the memories and dreams.
It’s the fifth day of the seventy-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.