Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Girl Stuff

I was helping my Mom clean out some things on Sunday, and she took out her jewelry box, which is always fun for me. My family is close, and my sisters, sister-in-law and nieces all swap and borrow jewelry as needed. It's like a family gemach. If someone is going to a simcha and they want to borrow Bubbe's diamond circle pin for their suit (which my older sister inherited), or Great-Aunt Shaindy's pearl bracelet (which my niece got on her Bas Mitzvah), no prob. When I got married, I got a hideous ruby pendant from one of my aunts and I traded it for my sis-i.-l.'s vintage emerald ring, that I remember my grandmother wearing. Sharing and swapping just extends your jewelry possibilities, and keeps everything in the family. We all love and enjoy our trinkets and each piece is full of memories.

So my Mom's jewelry box has become a repository for all the fake and real jewelry that the females in my family have left in her house over the years. Some of it is beyond ugly, some of it is very pretty, lots of it has sentimental value, much of it begs to be thrown out. That jewelry box held everything from dainty old filigree brooches from pre-state Israel that are probably over 100 years old, to gigantic clunky plastic Madonna wannabe earrings from the 80's. My family was never wealthy, but we always did love our baubles. So Mom and I sorted out jewelry that needed to be returned to family members, rarely worn valuable jewelry that had to go into the vault, hideous dreck that I was definitely putting on eBay, and jewelry that needed to be cleaned or fixed.

Then she surprised me.

She took out a little dark green box that I had never seen before. Inside were three cameos, of different sizes and colors. They were beautiful and looked very old. Apparently my grandfather had picked them up in Florence many years ago. I didn't remember my mother or anyone else in my family ever wearing them. My Mom told me she wore them in her youth, and very few times after she was married. She showed me an interesting way of wearing a cameo in my hair (!), with just the front part of my hair twirled up to meet in the back, and the cameo anchoring the twirls in place. It looked so pretty and feminine and unusual, even in my curly mess. She said that's how she used to wear them. Funny, I never thought of wearing jewelry in my hair. So old-fashioned and girly. I really liked it.

My family is very "real." We don't have a lot of Kodak moments, but when we do, they are infused with reality and salt...nothing fluffy or mushy about Famille de la WebGirl.

Mom gave me the cameos. I am the only one in my family who really has a love of old things and she knows that. She told me she was sure that I would someday have a daughter or daughter-in-law to pass them on to, just as she passed them on to me. Of course I started bawling at that, not just because of the jewelry, but because I am starting to lose faith that I will ever have a family. My mother said she had no doubt that I would and that I would love my children even more because they will have been hard-earned, and that I really needed to stop feeling sorry for myself, because it was unbecoming and would only drag me down.

I do love Mom sometimes. And I love my beautiful new old cameos.


smoo said...

I got the impression that your mother intended these treasure as a segula for having a family of your own

WebGirl said...

Maybe. That's definitely a nice thought. :)

I don't really believe in segulas, btw. When I was single, I had enough pieces of broken plates from weddings under my bed, to put together service for eight. It still took me forever to get married, no thanks to any segulas. All my choices, bad as they were, were mine alone.

I don't believe in the concept of bashert or magic or mazel either. The way I met my ex-husband was so magical and fairy-tale-like and fortuitous, I honestly believe that it helped convince me to go forward with my bad marriage. No more magic for me.

Whenever I wear one of my cameos, I will always remember how much my Mom loves me and believe in me. Both of my parents did. I am so fortunate in that regard.

Jacob Da Jew said...


I just learned about cameos in my gemology class..shhh, no one else knows I'm taking them ;)