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Pennies from Heaven, Diamonds from Grandma

My grandmother loved diamonds.

She loved all jewelry really and had an eye for interesting pieces, especially ones discovered at a tag or estate sale. I don’t think she ever bought a piece retail; haggling a good price made it even more valuable. A queen must have her jewels, even if she has to get them herself.

As she regally stirred the pot of her mouthwatering chicken soup, golden bangles lightly clanked together. When she bent down her perfectly coiffed swirl of red hair to speak with one of us grandkids, chains adorned with diamond pendants swiped past our noses. As she breezily blew on her cigarette, rings of smoke and glimmering gems danced through her manicured fingers.

And the day, decades later, when she rubbed my leg the way she always did in a circular motion that generally ended with a squeeze, her old diamond pinky ring nipped at my skin. “I want you to have this,” she said with great formality, opening a box holding a diamond ring I had never seen before.

“Grandma, I don’t want your things. You keep them,” I said, mesmerized by the shiny bauble that I couldn’t decide was the prettiest or the ugliest thing I had ever seen.

“You can’t take it with you,” She insisted.

My grandmother had been dying for about a decade. Every week she reminded me that her bags were packed and she was ready to kiss her old arse goodbye. For nine of those years, it was more cranky optimism than death that gripped her, but she was 90 now and visibly weakened. I didn’t want to think about that or that she was giving away things that had really mattered to her.

“I can wait,” I said stubbornly.

Her circular rub turned into a pinch. “Ow! Fine.” I took the ring and studied it. It was a flower of tiered diamonds, glamorous and gaudy, an object of another place and time. But who wanted it? I wanted her.

“It’s beautiful!” I exclaimed, “Thank you! I’ll wear it to all the baseball games to blind the players in the field.”

She smacked at me lightly. “It’s an old-fashioned cocktail ring. I got it from two sisters who came to me knowing I had an eye. They had no idea how much it was worth.”  Her eyes glinted as she remembered her coup, licking her lips in satisfaction, the same way she did before a bowl of chocolate ice cream or a plate of lobster Cantonese.

The value of the ring mattered little to me. I would never sell it. Nor did I need a fancy diamond to wear at the gym or on a playdate. Things like this weren’t important in my world. I barely even wore my engagement ring. The older I got, the more jewelry just seemed like money better spent in a 529 plan, a new fridge or even a family vacation.

But the value she placed on it mattered. Passing it on to me was like offering a piece of herself. ‘Remember me’ it glimmered; like her deep humor, wit and love somehow needed to be cemented with a stone.

She died not too long after, but that was years ago. Her face now smiles from frames on my shelves, my middle son still cuddles with a frayed stuffed cat she gave to him, and I proudly wear her ring every chance I get, just to keep a little flash of her sparkle in my day.

My grandmother loved diamonds. And I loved my grandmother.

 

Ain't nothin like the real thing baby

Ain’t nothin like the real thing baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

40 responses »

  1. Gorgeous! I wear my grandmothers wedding band. It can be very comforting to have a piece of her on me! BTW, love the ring!! xo

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  2. May she keep shining on through the ring but also your stories and memories of her 🙂

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  3. Awww. She’s alive in this piece for sure.

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  4. Oh, this hit me hard. My grandmother had so many lovely things, and I was lucky enough to inherit one of her rings. Each time I wear it I can see it on her hand… and the memories are right there in front of me. Loved this…

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  5. Wow, as I was reading this I was thinking about my wonderful mother-in-law, who left me a similarly diamond-laden ring about 3 weeks before she died. I wear it daily, even though it contrasts rather glaringly with my usual style (“Mid-Century Thrift Store”).
    ~Karen

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  6. Beautiful essay. Your grandmother wanted you to have a piece of her and to be remembered and you have honored her so many times not just by wearing it but by writing such heartfelt pieces about her and your special relationship together.

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  7. What a lovely reminder of a lovely and fun sounding woman!

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  8. The ring really is lovely and your grandmother sounds just as lovely.

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  9. I am so glad you took the ring from her. I work in Hospice and too often people don’t understand how important it is to those who are dying to pass on prized possessions to their loved ones. That ring is gorgeous…and your grandmother was even more beautiful 🙂

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  10. The story of how she got it is even more valuable than the ring.

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  11. How very sweet. She wanted you to have a piece of her to remember forever.

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  12. I hope you are intending to write a book using all of your short stories.

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  13. Grandmothers are so special, aren’t they? It’s so nice to have something she touched and used as her own , isn’t it? So nice to know that you treasure it

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  14. So nice to have a piece that belonged to her, isn’t it? Grandmothers are so special that way

    Random Thoughts Naba – Turn Back Time……

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  15. My grandma absolutely loved jewelry too, and when she passed away almost 4 years ago, my mom and my 2 aunts divided her jewelry up among themselves and the 7 granddaughters so that we could all wear a piece of it every day. Jewelry was the thing that we all shared and it’s how we stay close to her even now that she is gone. Love this, so much.

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  16. This is all kinds of wonderful. You were lucky to have such an amazing grandma.

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  17. Lovely! I also have things passed down to me by elderly relatives, and while I don’t put a lot of store in jewelry or trinkets, I really believe that their true value is in the stories they help us remember. 🙂

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  18. Wow, I’m so like this too; your post brought tears to my eyes.. thank you..

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  19. Aw lovely! I think the ring is beautiful!

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  20. What wonderful details of your grandmother. I love the picture of her stirring soup with her jewelry on.

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  21. Beautifully written. Very touching. I loved this line, “haggling a good price made it even more valuable.”

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  22. I love how you describe your grandma’s small gestures – so very evocative!

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  23. Aww… Sweet and well written. Your grandma sounds like she was a lively and fun woman with so much personality. I like how you described how you didn’t care so much
    for the ring itself but longed more for her and your relationship with her. A lovely tribute!

    Reply
  24. Aw fantastic story! Sparkle on!

    Reply

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