Mamaw left me her jewelery. She also left me her jewelery box, which is good, because without it, I would be sitting in a pile of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and miscellaneous keepsakes about three feet high.
We're talking about a free-standing box that comes about to my chest, is about a foot square, and is full.
We're also talking about a collection of small, dresser-top jewelery boxes from various and somewhat random female relatives that has filtered down through the women of that side of the family.
It's a lot of stuff.
Mamaw's big box is full of memories for me. When I was little, she would pull out a drawer and we would put stuff on, she would tell me stories about everything in there. Where she got it, who it belonged to before her, or just why she liked it.
Most of those stories I can't remember. I wish I could, I really do. Mostly I remember how much fun we had, in front of that box and at the table with the box that held the wedding sets, and the pearl earrings she let me wear to prom, and the giant diamond rings she wanted to tie to Etta's bridle for the show my last year at college. None of the rest of us would help her figure out how to do it, for fear of losing them.
I remember how much she enjoyed her pretty things, all her big colorful earrings, the black hills gold, and tons of Avon pieces. I've sorted through everything and organized it, to some degree, and remembered all the while. I have my great uncle's airborne wings and his dress hat pin. I have the necklace I brought her from Hawaii, and the black pearl set mom picked out for her there. I have Sugar's volunteer badge, and the pins the hospital gave her to honor her for all the time she gave.
I have the ring that didn't come off her finger for years, until it just didn't fit anymore.
Some of it fits, some of it doesn't. Some of the latter I'll get sized. I've been wearing a few pieces now and then, but I'll never wear it all. There's more earrings than I know what to do with.
Mom told me to go through it and keep what I wanted, and anything I didn't want, take to her, and she and SIL would go through and take what they wanted.
I can't do it though. Some of the stuff that was in there clearly should go to other people. Dad's first hunting license he's already got. All of the baseball cards I found went to my brother... that was him and Mamaw all the way. There's a ziplock full of stuff that should go to other members of the family. There's another with broken bits, old beads, single earrings, that will go to someone who can make them into something beautiful that will be worn again, because I think Mamaw would like that.
The rest of it.... I can't. I can't bring myself to pick and choose, not yet anyway. She wanted me to have it and part of me is overwhelmed, and wouldn't mind having a little less. Another part of me can't stand the idea of giving away any of it, whether I ever wear it or not. All of that stuff... it was her. Not just hers, I'm not quite that sentimental... it was her. It's all pieces of her life, or Sugar's, or someone else she loved. So much of the stuff in the big box, you can just look at it and know, that was her.
I've cried more going through this stuff than anyone knows, and laughed sometimes while I did. Because it's all her. It's that crazy, freaky, outrageous woman, right there in that box. I can almost hear her telling me to pile it on, when I pick out pieces to wear for the day. Hear her sigh when I shuffle through the earrings and pass them over.
She's in there, in that ridiculously large jewelery box. I just can't give that away. I don't know if that will ever change, either.
For now, though, all of that stuff is just fine where it is.