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Another Gems From The Heart Story Contest Entry

My jewelry story is actually one of regret (although it does have a
somewhat happy ending).  My father had never wanted my mother to work,
as he saw himself as the provider for the family as many men of his
generation did, but when all three children had left home he relented
and allowed her to work part-time at a gardening center (she was very
good at growing flowers and people would come from miles around to see
the flowers she'd planted around the horseshoe driveway in front of our
home in the suburbs).  My mother and father had originally come from
Ukraine and so my mother did have a bit of trouble communicating
(writing up time sheets, etc. – I had always translated everything for
her when I was at home) but she loved working there.  However at tax
time it turned out that her job put my parents in a higher tax bracket,
and so it wasn't worth it for her to work there anymore, even though
she'd been there just a little while.  One day when I was back at home
visiting my mother she gave me a shy smile and presented me with a box
that had a pendant in it – a tiny piece of coral in a cone-like gold
setting at the top.  She said the coral came from Ukraine and that
because she had never had nice things, she wanted me to have them, and
so she wanted me to have this pendant.  At the time I was prone to
wearing glitzy fashion jewelry or antique pieces, and although I
thanked my mother I thought that she really didn't understand me and my
sense of style in giving me this piece of jewelry, which I usually only
wore when visiting her.  One day after a visit I found that I'd lost
it, but didn't give it much thought (being so young and foolish).  Many
years later my mother had a stroke (after my father passed away) and I
spent weeks with her in the hospital translating for her and talking to
doctors.  One day she asked me to bring me her purse and when I did,
wrapped in a small piece of paper towelling, she withdrew the coral
necklace and gave it to me!  She told me that she could tell I really
didn't like it and that I had lost it on her carpet and she'd kept it
for me these many years and now wanted me to have it.  She had spent
all the money that she earned at the gardening center to buy it for
me!  I put it on and cried – I loved my mother so much! – and finally
realized how it wasn't my transient trendy styles that she chose to
acknowledge but that she was giving me a piece of herself to remember
her by.  She died soon afterwards, and ever since I've worn the coral
pendant and been very, very careful not to lose it and to tell everyone
that my beautiful mother gave it to me!

Christina Zawadiwsky