I arranged her beloved Whiting Davis jewelry sets on the white felt material. I secured diamond necklaces with pins to capture their sparkle and value. I listened to the story for each piece as I snapped a digital photo.
"This one was my mom's." My Grandma pulled off one of her diamond rings and put it next in line for the photo shoot. "And these," she handed me a string of pearls, "My mom always called these 'her pearls'. She just loved to wear them, but many years ago, she had to get them restrung at a jeweler in Hastings. We never thought a thing of it, but when I took them in to be appraised, the guy said, 'I'm sorry, these aren't real pearls.' Those jerks in Hastings stole my mom's original pearls and gave her back fakes. It just makes me sick."
For every piece of jewelry, there is a story. Just like for every set of dishes, every saved postcard, and every hand-made blanket. Grandparents are our storytellers and our wisdom-holders, our chocolate chip cookie makers, and our first basketball coaches. More important, grandparents are our history and they are part of us. I am fortunate to have spent much of my childhood at Grandma and Grandpa's learning the stories of rural Nebraskan schoolhouses and Midland Lutheran College and the good old days of Husker Football.
As a kid, I didn't realize how special grandparents are. I had fun trying on Grandma's costume jewelry and 1950's-style dresses. I always ate ice cream with Grandpa, and he was never too tired to pitch me a few tennis balls after dinner.
Now, as a young adult, I respect my grandparents for enduring life's obstacles with grace and persistence. I love the stories about the old days, even the ones I already know by heart.
Today my grandma gave me one of her lockets. I'm the only granddaughter, so I take the position very seriously. Getting some of Grandma's jewelry is a big deal. Those special things that are passed down keep the stories and the family alive.