As my mother lay dying, one of her last messages to me was, “Don’t give away my pretty things.” She was in an extreme condition that did not allow me to explore this topic further. I assured her I would treasure her pretty things. A certain heavy burden for me was to evaluate her possessions and determine what was “pretty,” or rather, what she considered “pretty”—silver, dishes, jewelry, furniture, clothes. I enlisted the help of family members in cleaning out houses. I must confess that pretty things did get “given away,” but all within the family. I believe she would be pleased with the disposition of most of it.
We think of her each Easter when we enjoy the delicate egg tree on the dining room table and at Christmas as we hang the exquisite ornaments. I feel her close when I wear her gold and diamond necklace. I recall her just-so hair do, her immaculate dress, her beautiful smile, her support and encouragement. I have her velvet lined jewelry box upstairs, the scent of her signature Estee Lauder perfume still lingering inside. Whenever I need to ask her something, I open that heavy wooden lid and breathe in my mother and hear her say, “Just use your good sense. You’ll know what to do.” When my mother died, a friend of mine said to me, “Your mother was your greatest cheerleader.” It’s a bit sad to realize that what I have left of her is a wooden box to cheer me on.