It was Easter, a few years ago, before dessert was brought over to the kitchen table we were gathered around. My grandmother passed each of us cousins a jewelry box. Each of us were given a piece of jewelry that had significance and history to our Nana.
Yesterday was the first Easter without our Nana. It was a day filled with reminiscing and a few tears, too. But it was the stories she told us on that Easter that still stands out to me; and her foresight to want to share and pass on the heirlooms while she still had a chance to tell us the stories and see us wearing the pieces.
At the time, she gave me a ring that belonged to her mother. I was in my writing group at GoogleWorks that I mention in my first book, Breaking the Chains of Silence. It started out as a group for grief and healing and turned into so much more for us. I shared a poem in my group that I wrote, inspired by Nana sharing a story about the piece given to my sister. It made me think, and I shared my concerns with the Tuesday night writing group that I feared my Nana did it because she knew something we didn't. Like she knew her time was coming.
When her birthday came during the summer of 2012, I made her a framed copy of the following poem with pearls glued all around. I also gave her a letter that she kept behind the frame. While thinking of her, I wanted to share the poem.
PASSING IT ON
3 rows of real pearls,
A gift from Nana
with a story,
"Your grandfather's mother
frowned when he gave this to me
and spitefully she said,
'One pearl for every time
he'll make you cry'."
She recounts this with humor and defiance,
Personally I'd like to think
a majority of the tears
were for joyous occasions,
4 of those pearl are for
the happy tears of
bringing a baby into this world.
And 3 more for the babies
that didn't make it,
6 more for the granddaughters,
Along with a handful more
on days we made her proud.
One more for her wedding day
since she's such a sentimental romantic,
And several more on the day Pap died
when she couldn't let go.
Gently she passed it down
the table to my sister,
Passing a heirloom down
for her to safe keep,
As she touches the pearls
she sheds a few tears,
Jokingly she accepts and says,
"Thanks for passing the curse to me."
~~Marie Schaeller, Spring 2012.
Reading the poem makes me think of that day and puts me back in Nana's cozy kitchen with the family gathered around. Whenever I see my sister wear it, it makes me smile. I'm grateful she passed our pieces to us while she was here to make that special memory with us.
Nana knew how hard it would be when she passed on, and wrote personal letters to each of her children and grandchildren. It felt like a sweet embrace from Nana at a time when I really needed it most. She is missed greatly by my family and I. Her legacy and the time she spent with all of us means the world.
April is also Poetry month, and I'm hoping to share more of my poetry before the month is over. Writing is a way to connect with others and ourselves. It is also a way that I document, cherish, and understand my world.
If you can, pull your family in closer, relish your traditions, and make memories that last.