I remember it well. It was the Christmas that I was 13 years old. It was the first time I had received a 'grown up' stocking. You know----instead of the stocking full of candy, trinkets and such, it was full of 'grown up' type of gifts.
I reached in to the stocking, curiosity filling me, somehow knowing that this Christmas was different.
Out came woolen gloves and a matching ear warmer, covered with a pretty green pattern.
My mom looked at me and smiled. "I thought maybe you'd wear the ear warmer to keep your ears warm since you don't like when a hat messes up your hair. Keep those nice, Jaime, they're not cheap things."
Those same gloves and ear warmer are even today stuffed into the pocket of my maternity winter coat. The warmest, most dependable gloves I've owned, even after 16 years.
I reached into the stocking for the next gift. A simple index card. On it were words written in my mother's often silly type of personality. "Dear Jaime---Your wise and scheming mother spied the university cello teacher at a recent community event. I went up to talk to her, and she agreed to give you two cello lessons to help you decide if you really want to learn how to play. You're welcome-----Love, Mom
Cello lessons were a dream come true for me. One of the best gifts, written on an index card.
I reached in one more time. A little green box with a gold band on it. I opened it up, and there inside was a dainty gold ring, tiny little diamonds encircling a real opal in the middle. Opal is my birthstone---the glorious, beautiful month of October. It was the most dignified, significant piece of jewelry I'd ever owned.
Mom smiled at me. " I think you're old enough now to take care of it"
I've worn it often since then, and I've had it on 24/7, seven days a week since her funeral. It's never left my finger. I look at my left hand, and am instantly reminded of the love of my husband. I look at my right hand, and am instantly reminded of the love of my Mama.
That is, until this afternoon. Out of habit, I looked down at the ring, and realized in horror----"The opal!!! It's gone!!" And isntantly, I remembered snagging my finger on something that morning, feeling the pain, and yelling 'Ow!' I never even thought to check the ring at the time.
I ran into the living room, in serious distress, asking my husband if he remembered where I was when I yelled out earlier. No, he didn't even remember me yelling out. And I can't even remember what I was doing at the time. I just remember the pain on my finger, never realizing that a special part of myself was being torn away forever.
There's no chance I'll ever find the opal again, except by a miracle. As I sat there on the living room floor, missing my Mama more than ever, sweet little Leanna ran over to me and wrapped her arms around me in comfort. She didn't understand why I was upset, but she wanted to love her Mama anyway.
The love of my Mama, passed on to me.....passed on to my daughters....generation after generation. The opal is gone, and I'll miss it's signifigance and constant reminder to me of my Mom. But her love, her values, who she is, lives on through my own daughters. THEY will be the constant reminder to me of the love of a mother.