May is the month we remember our mothers – whether they’re living or not.
My mother died in May, 2007. She rests with my father, at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. At the time of her death, many active duty military personnel needed burial, too, so our family waited three months for a “widow’s interment.”
That delay caused my sister and I to decide on cremation (simply because an urn is much easier to store in your guest room than a body in a casket.)
While selecting the container that would be buried at Arlington, I purchased a piece of urn jewelry – specifically, a necklace with a small compartment designed to hold the ashes of a loved one. According to the ads, “Cremation jewelry allows you to hold that special someone close to you.”
All I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time.
However, when the gold teardrop pendant arrived, it required a special tool to open the small compartment – something neither I, nor the undertaker, owned. Which is why I arrived at an elegant jewelry store clutching a tiny bag of my mother’s ashes in one hand and a gold necklace in the other.
The jeweler maintained his composure when I made my request. With a bit of flourish, he unfolded a black velvet cloth on the glass counter and produced something resembling a dental tool. After unscrewing the back of the pendant, he removed a wire twist-tie from the top of the baggie, poured a bit out and began tapping her inside.
“I’ve never been asked to do this before,” he admitted solemnly, as a bead of sweat formed on his forehead. I wanted to say something reassuring, but quite honestly, nothing came to mind. After all, I’d never done it either.
Unfortunately, there was a bit more of Mom than there was space inside the necklace. So as the jeweler screwed the back onto the pendant, I did what anyone does automatically – without thinking – when they are faced with dust at home: I blew it off the glass.
Instantly horrified, I watched the particles float to the carpet.
The giggle in my throat – the kind that usually starts in a church pew and erupts into uncontrollable fits of laughter – began.
I’m not sure how long we cackled and chortled, or if the jeweler stepped out for a drink as soon as I left………..
However, I am certain of this: My mother would appreciate even a part of her spending eternity in a jewelry store.
Happy Mother’s Day.