Charmed

(Today’s post is a “re-post” from October 15, 2011.  The story still brings me a sense of peace and the memories these simple charm bracelets represent fill my heart as much today as they did many decades ago.)

 

There are certain possessions that we all have in life that mean much more to us than their value.  Items that “in a fire” you would grab.

Besides Lita, I have a few things I would try to save in case of an emergency…..  the framed baby outfit I wore home from the hospital when I was born, a quilt made from my parents clothes when they were children both of which were Christmas gifts from mama and daddy.

I would try to grab family photos and my “important documents” box, but before any of those other “things” in my life (excluding Lita) I would reach for the charm bracelets.

In my living room, in a special place of honor are two framed charm bracelets, costume jewelry that means more to me than anyone else.  These charm bracelets belonged to mama and ma-ma.

When I was a very young child I used to spend a lot of time with ma-ma and gramps.  We had kind of a routine that included continuous pampering and exploration of my imagination and creative personality.

Ma-ma was the perfect homemaker, she could bake, cook, clean, sew, garden, arrange flowers, craft, she could do it all and she loved having a little one tugging at her apron strings offering to “help.”  I love pulling those apron stings, so we were a perfect pair!

One of my favorite things to do with ma-ma was to have her tell me stories,  stories from the charm bracelet.

Ma-ma’s charm bracelet was gold and from my childhood memory it had what seemed like hundreds of charms.  Each charm held a significance, the sewing machine, the thimble, a head for each child and grandchild, a replica of her brother’s Bronze Star, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Florida;  all remembrances of trips taken through the years.

For a young boy filled with an unquenchable imagination, that bracelet and the stories that were told about each charm could entertain for hours.

Many years later, when ma-ma died, I knew there was one thing I really wanted, I wanted that bracelet.  I hadn’t seen it in years and when I mentioned it no one knew where it was.

Through the days of purging ma-ma’s belongings someone found the charm bracelet and gave it to me.  As an adult, it wasn’t as impressive as it was when I was a child, you could see some of the charms were missing and it was tarnished, but just seeing that bracelet brought back a flood of memories and times spent with my grandmother that I would never be able to replace.

Mama’s bracelet was different.  Mama’s bracelet was silver and only had 5 charms on it… one for daddy, one for Tom, one for Sam, one for me and one for herself.  Four male heads and one female.

On the front of each charm our name and birth date was engraved.  On the back of Tom’s was his death date.

Somewhere through the years mama lost her charm bracelet she would mention it from time to time and how much it meant to her.

One year, when I was about 16, I knew exactly what I wanted to give mama for Christmas.  I had worked all summer and saved some money and knew that this would be the year I was able to give her the special gift.

When we open our Christmas gifts each year, we try and hold one back for the grand finale as we know it is going to be the “special gift” for that year.  This was my first year able to give the “special” gift.

I planned for weeks, I got mama’s gift, I made sure everything was perfect and on Christmas Eve, I proudly put that gift under the tree.

As we unwrapped the gifts my excitement built and for the first time, this year the excitement really wasn’t for what I was receiving, but what I was giving.

When the time finally came and all the gifts but one were opened, I proudly handed mama her beautifully wrapped package.  I sat nervously beside her and as she unwrapped the package, our small family watched in anticipation.

When the package was opened, there it lay a silver charm bracelet, just like the one she had year’s before.  Five heads, each engraved, a simple gift that meant more to my mama and I than any expensive gadget could.  To this day, the most special gift I have ever given anyone.

Mama and I both cried.

Through the years mama wore that bracelet everywhere and she made sure not to lose it.  She added three more heads through the years, Donna, Chelsea and Zack.

When mama passed, there was one thing I wanted.  Before I left Clayton on my way back to Florida after that horrible/wonderful week, I went to mama’s jewelry box and collected the charm bracelet.

Not long after I got my grandmother’s bracelet, I decided to have it framed.  I lived in Atlanta at the time and had a friend who was a framer, he made sure that it got the attention it deserved and did a beautiful job with the presentation.

After mama died it took me almost a year to have her bracelet framed.  It hurt too much to think about finalizing it and putting the bracelet behind glass.

Finally, as the 1 year anniversary of mama’s death approached I took it out and went to my local framer.  I carried ma-ma’s bracelet with me to show the framer what I wanted.

Thankfully, the framer saw the importance of this project and gave it his attention and dedication.  We picked out a frame that complimented ma-ma’s.  After finally, pulling together the strength to take the bracelet to the framer, I waited with nervous anticipation for it to be completed.

When I got the call that my frame was completed, I went to pick it up with excitement.  When I saw the frame opened, again I cried, just like the first time I saw it opened and just like the first time, I knew my mama was right beside me admiring the bracelet as well.

Today those two bracelets sit in a place of honor in my living room.  On a small table, two pieces of costume jewelry that mean the world to me.

(Note – since moving back to God’s Country two years ago, the bracelets still hold a place of honor, in my living room, prominently on my mantle.)

Life’s Playlist…… Vacation by The Go Gos

Everyone who works at the store is on vacation…… except me!

With that in mind…. y’all have fun, I’ll hold down the fort!

 

 

 

 

Life’s Playlist….. The Star Spangled Banner performed by Whitney Houston

Independence Requires Responsibility

This weekend we celebrate our nation’s independence.

The 4th of July is a red, white and blue celebration of national pride that we partake in every year.

In 1776, when our forefathers set out to form a more perfect union, the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence outlined the blueprint for our nation…..

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

As we gather on beaches, lakes, mountaintops and the communities of our land celebrating our Independence, I believe in these words more today than ever; 241 years later, the ideals of our founding fathers still stand.

As a people we are given more freedoms than any other nation on the planet.  The melting-pot that makes America great still stands strong today and while we have not succeeded in every way, I contend that the American experiment is the greatest of all time.

With our independence also come great responsibility, this is where I think we as a people have fallen short.

We live in contentious times, but that contentiousness will not destroy us, if we as Americans will just honor those unalienable rights that we were given.

Our independence requires participation.  If we do not participate in the process how do we make our nation better?

When we lend a hand to those in our community, support the needs of our citizens and become involved in the process that makes our country great, often times we find a kinship with others that may not be seen from the surface.

I have often found that once I get to know someone, our differences quickly disappear and our similarities rise to the surface.  I think it is time that we started celebrating our unique commonality as a nation and stop focusing solely on our different visions.

And it’s time that we stopped concentrating on “beating the other side” and worked for the common good, one that includes compromise from all sides and not just a win at all cost mentality.

However, with this independence that we all partake in, a responsibility is required.

For too long, some in our nation have lived on the backs of others, for true independence to thrive, everyone must do their part.

I don’t think anyone would argue that those hurting in our nation deserve our support, but when able-bodied Americans sit back and live off the hard work of others, the promise of that document signed in 1776 is tarnished.

It’s time that we as Americans, ALL Americans took responsibility and moved us towards that more perfect union.

Hard work is the backbone of our country, that includes arriving on time, staying late and working to the best of our abilities.

Most of us have had jobs that we didn’t love, jobs we felt were beneath us, but with hard work and dedication we can move up and forward finding a place where we best fit into the fabric of America.

Until ALL Americans take their place at the table and help move us forward we will falter.

America is and will always be the greatest nation on earth, some in our nation have forgotten that.  For those people it is time that you step up, bring your voice to the table and your hands to the workforce… participate, for our nation to thrive, we require everyone.

As we gather this weekend, and again on Tuesday to celebrate our nation and our Independence, I hope we will all remember the responsibility we each hold in carrying forward the ideals of America.

It is more than just fireworks and picnics, it is a 365 day a year responsibility to honor our greatness.

Happy Independence Day America!

 

Life’s Playlist…. Memorial Day… America the Beautiful / God Bless America performed by David Phelps