My maternal grandmother died last year. My mother gave me a ring that had belonged to her. The ring wasn’t much to look at at the time–blackened with just the hint of turquoise sticking out. But it started to bring back memories of lessons learned in my grandmother’s jewelry chest.
Lesson 1: Wear things that make you feel and look good; don’t worry about what everyone else thinks.
My grandmother was a beautiful lady with a classic kind of beauty. Her wardrobe was split into two sections: every day and Sunday go-to-meeting. Each section was interwoven with two different kinds of clothes, too.
There were your everyday classics that never go out of style: turtlenecks for layering, the little black dress for every special occasion, the classically cut business suit perfect for meetings and funerals.
Then there were the unusual pieces: the multi-colored broomstick skirt, the long sweater jacket, the red shoes with bows at the toe and heel.
Her wardrobe reflected her life: well balanced and classy. Her jewelry chest was no exception. She had the simple gem solitaires combined with the unusual big rings sitting beside the simple tennis bracelet hanging just above the big clip-on earrings.
Everything in that chest was picked by her or by someone she loved dearly to reflect her, her personality, and her character. I would not have looked right in all of the pieces, nor would my mother. But all those pieces were a perfect fit for my grandmother.
Lesson 2: Choose to be in the right place to stay in good shape.
My grandmother used to keep chalk in with her sterling silver jewelry. She told me that somehow it prevented the tarnishing, that black and grey covering on the jewelry that made it hard to see its worth. She couldn’t tell me how.
She also used that chalk as an analogy for the still, small Voice. She told me that if I wanted to stay in good shape to hear the still, small Voice and reflect His glory, I had to look at all my relationships and habits. I had to balance my choices; I needed to spend as much time with the followers of the still, small Voice as I did with people who weren’t far enough along to care about what the still, small Voice wanted.
If I let it get too out of balance with too much time with the group that wasn’t ready to listen to the still, small Voice, I would be tarnished like the silver without the chalk. Conversely, if I spent too much time with the people who listened to the still, small Voice, there would be no point in being shiny and clean because no one would notice and be interested in the still, small Voice.
Lesson 3: When tarnish happens, it can be fixed.
My grandmother had a ring that was made from the handle of spoon that had belonged to her mother. I had played with it a few times because it was unusual. I remembered it had been made from a spoon handle. But one time, I was shocked because it wasn’t much to look at.
It was badly tarnished because I *gulp* had moved it one time when I was playing in her jewelry chest. It was broken because I put it back in the wrong place, away from the magical chalk.
I took a few deep breaths, and then I took the ring to my grandmother. With trembling hands and quivering voice, I started to tell the whole story of the mess I’d made of her ring.
She took my hands, laughed, and hugged me. She then did something so unusual. She handed me the ring and told me to go brush the ring like I’d brush my teeth. I must have stared in shock because she chuckled and told me to do it.
So, I put toothpaste on an old toothbrush and began scrubbing and working on the ring. I rinsed it, and I was shocked at the silver flashing out from the black and grey.
I ran excitedly shrieking, and she laughed. She told me that the ring and tarnish was like most mistakes–it can be reversed with the right instructions and a lot of work.
At the end of memory lane, I used all those lessons to ensure my ring that had been hers had been cleaned to a point where it had the right balance of tarnish and shine. I loved wearing it whenever I felt I needed to remember all my grandmother’s lessons.
And yes, I don’t remember where it is right now…