A story written by a grandaughter of her grandmother's last gift.
Written by: Dana Howard
My grandmother was a Fashionista and dressed in more style than women half her age. Nanny also had a beautiful physique that made all the elderly women in her community green with envy. She stopped traffic with her selection of classy, but modest suits and dresses. She was a classy lady indeed!
I remember the morning my grandmother walked into my church to attend mine and my son's Baptisms when our Senior Pastor seemed to lose his very thought while greeting the visitors. The poor dear had no idea what came over him and kept looking Nanny's way all throughout the service. Even his sermon notes could not keep him on point! It was obvious to many since our little community church did not have many visitors, especially one as lovely and humble as this lady.
My mother and I were tickled beyond words that day sharing a good chuckle on our way home later. My grandmother was totally clueless of the effect she had on men and women alike. You would never had believed she was to be 73-years young in a couple of weeks, but when Mary Elizabeth entered a room, people took notice...that was for sure! My Pastor asked weeks later, "who was that fine lady that came in with your mother?"
"Oh, that was my grandmother," I proudly replied as if I had something to do with her ladylike demeanor and beautiful ensemble she wore to my church. Too funny!
I have found myself over time to emulate a little bit of Nanny's style when selecting the style of my suits, dresses and shoes. She always said to choose clothing that are fashionable, classy and will always be part of your repertoire, no matter what time of the year. We both tended to buy one another slippers, stockings and pieces of costume jewelry we thought the other would appreciate.
Nanny once told me after the birth of my second child that my backside looked like a jelly donut and I needed to start wearing a girdle! I was aghast with horror but knew she was correct! But who wears girdles these days? Apparently both men and women do for that matter and needless to say, Nanny bought me my first and I wore it with immense pride! I realized that must be why she always looked so svelte and put-together! Another lesson learned by this studious student! Today, I am sure to keep a few handy in many shapes and lengths...especially when I want to dress appropriately to go to church and to the office.
On one Saturday afternoon visit, I shared with my grandmother I purchased a beautiful ivory colored satin blouse to wear with a new black suit for a dinner party, and was looking for a Cameo brooch with a black background. I looked high and dry for one, but they all seemed to have a rose or beige background. Nanny assured me she would keep any eye out for one in her shopping travels.
On Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from my sister that our grandmother was found unconscious in her bedroom. I rushed out of the office and found that Nanny had already passed away from an apparent heart attack, possibly in the early morning hours during her sleep. All our hearts were shattered.
Weeks after the funeral, my mother and I were talking about our last discussions we had with Nanny. I went on to tell my Mom about our last discussion and the Cameo Brooch I could not seem to locate in the stores. I was considering going to flea markets and yard sales sure that somebodies trash would surely be my treasure find. My mother's eyes brightened as if she just remembered something.
"I have something for you," said Mother, and she stepped away for a moment, returning with a small silver box. Inside was a beautiful vintage Cameo Brooch with an onyx background surrounded in gold.
"Mama told me to give this to you", my mother explained. I was astounded.
"When?" I asked. "I don't understand." I replied very puzzled.
"Your grandmother gave the brooch to me the Sunday before she died. She found it in her jewelry box and said you told her you have been looking for one."
I picked up the brooch and gingerly caressed the delicate etching and turned it over to admire the masterful texture of the onyx stone as tears cascaded down my cheeks.
"She said she forgot she had one in her jewelry box." My mother continued quietly with tears in her eyes, "Do you realize..." Mother paused, then continued, "you are the last person that your Aunts and I are aware of that your grandmother gave a gift to before she died?"
I nodded as I quietly wept, turning away to digest this fact. What an honor when you think about it, to receive the very last treasured gift from the Matriarch of our family.
Today, I wear Nanny's Cameo Brooch with a full heart and beautiful memories of our sweet moments together. I embrace the fact she blessed me with something that belonged to her, although I will never know the story behind the cameo brooch in her jewelry box; I will treasure it and look forward to sharing this story with my eldest granddaughter when I pass it on to her one day!