I was brushing my hair one morning when I noticed I had lost an earring. I searched the tile floor, frantic at first, but soon gave up, calmly certain that the earring had been swallowed by the shower drain. Lost forever. As I knew someday it would be.
I had lost my mother’s diamond earring. It was only diamond-shaped, actually; a minuscule silver parallelogram, half of a pair that her brother had given her for her high school graduation. She had kept them, worn them—affectionately, I liked to think—for 44 years, until she died from cancer at 62.
In the days after she died my sister and I went through her jewelry box, picking out the things we would each like to keep, and maybe pass on to our own daughters. We didn’t fight about its contents, the small things we considered to be our birthrights. We wanted to please her, still. We had known these small treasures since the earliest days of our childhood: our grandmother’s ruby ring, an ancient monogrammed locket, the gold necklace we had given her on her last birthday, with a birthstone for each of her five grandchildren. We both selected a few items and moved on, with great, quiet purpose, to her clothing and shoes, which were easier to part with.
Maybe I had always known I couldn’t keep those earrings, that I would one day lose them as certainly as I would lose her. So when I finally did, I felt something akin to relief. It happened, and there was nothing more to be afraid of. There is power in knowing that the thing you have always feared has happened, and that you have survived—inexplicably—in spite of it. My mother’s earring was gone; she was gone. Another of her tokens, a small piece of her, was irreparably severed, lost forever, but I would survive, and find something else to give my own daughter. I would go on without the earring. Without her.
I have held on tightly to my mother’s possessions in the six years since she died. They are packed into boxes, various treasure chests that I rarely open anymore. Letters she sent me in college, recipes cut out from magazines, her favorite coffee mug. Also: a pair of black Isotoner gloves; an unopened tube of chapstick, a sacred store of the neon Post-it notes she favored for little reminders to herself.
When I lost the earring, I remembered a thousand small hallowed objects my mother had not kept: handmade Halloween costumes, prom dresses, books beloved by her and my sister and me. And I realized that Mom had gone all Marie Kondo on things, years before KonMari brought us her life-changing magic. Mom had blazed a tidying-up trail right through my childhood possessions. And I was absolutely indignant.
Because where was my orange chiffon Easter dress from 1979? Where were my baby teeth—aren’t moms supposed to keep those? (I don’t, but—still!) Where was my Judy Blume collection? But I remembered—the white and blue dress I wore to Sunday school every week for three years. A letter of apology I wrote when I was five or six and spoke crossly to her, the first of so, so many times. The books she bought me from the book fair, in the days when we could barely afford to pay for food. The books are gone, but the stories will always be with me. She will always be with me.
She gave me the books I loved, and the time and space to read them; that was her true legacy, her gift to us. I am working on her other bequest—that of tidying things up. Mom’s earring is gone. But I will always have her—the stories she gave me, her insane capacity to tidy up, and of course, the other earring, one of a pair, left behind.
Wishing you a lovely April, full of life-changing magic—
Andrea Flake, Bacon PTO
This April, the Bacon PTO is proud to bring you all this good stuff:
• April PTO Meeting, Friday, April 19 at 9:05
• April Dinner Night Out at DC Oakes: Monday, April 8 from 5-9
• Bacon Night at Rollerland: Friday, April 12 from 4-7
• The Scholastic Book Fair: April 23-26
• Purchase and customize your child’s yearbook by April 24: $20 at Treering.com, passcode #1012929541843271
• Books Before Bedtime: Wednesday, April 24 from 6-7:30 p.m.
• Donuts with Dad: Friday, April 26 at 8:10 a.m.
Board Meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at 9:05am in the Teacher's Lounge. You are welcome to attend these meetings as well.
President – Andrea Flake email@example.com
Vice president – Nicki Shamis
Secretary – Janelle Mainz
Treasurer – Lorie Barker
Volunteer Coordinator – Liz Fritz