Sunday, February 18, 2007


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A few years ago, my mother allowed me to go through some of my late grandmothers possessions to pick any items I would want to keep. I took some of my grandmothers beautiful paintings that she created, other decorative items, and a pearl necklace.

My grandmother had some money, and was well traveled. I was not sure if the pearls were oyster or man made. My mother figured they were man made, but was not sure.

The pearls remained in their original box and inside my bathroom closet for a few years. I opened the box yesterday and was greeted by a scent that reminded me of my grandmother….white shoulders perfume and turpentine. The label on the box said “Majorica”. I looked this brand up and found that they are, in fact, man made. They are the highest quality of man made pearls, though, and are the only man made pearls recognized by jewelry appreciators…whatever that means.

Every Majorica pearl is perfectly matched and round-shaped whereas no two oyster pearls are alike. Oyster pearl’s peculiarity stems from its certain blemish just like birthmark or fingerprint.

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(the real strand is the third from the top)

Another search on the internet led me to discover that these pearls fetch a decent value, for being man made and all. Thanks, mom!

I am not biologically related to my grandmother. She and my grandfather adopted my mother and her brother (who are also not biologically related to each other).

By the way, I called my grandmother “Nana”.

Growing up, I loved visiting Nana’s house. It was a fascinating place that displayed various items from foreign lands such as Germany and Korea. Tokens from where she and my grandfather lived during his military duty.

I would roam their house while inspecting their treasures and eventually relax on their fancy furniture, pretending it was mine. This never got old.

As I got older, I began to notice the weird relationship she and my mother had. When traveling the 4 hours to Nana’s house, my mom would let us wear our normal clothing. As the distance between the road and Nana’s house, my mothers temperament would change and she would become nervous. We would always stop about 15 minutes away from her house to change into “good clothes” and to wash our faces and comb our hair. We had to be “presentable” for Nana.

We would then go over “the rules” of visiting Nana:

  1. Do not make the sign of the cross at the dinner table (Nana hated Catholics)
  2. Do not argue if Nana refers to my deceased brother as “David” instead of “Joshua” (“Joshua” Was his first name and “David was his middle name. Nana called him “David” because “Joshua” sounded too ethnic.
  3. Do NOT get anything on Nana’s white carpets! (Nana would lay out a small blanket for us to sit on while we played with dominos in front of the t.v.)
  4. Do not mention that you saw a roach, mouse, any type of but, etc. in our house. (Nana was a clean freak and hated the fact that we lived near a field and were often exposed to such creatures)
  5. For god Sakes, BEHAVE!

Eventually, I figured out that Nana was one messed up lady. She was pretty cruel to my mother and father. Hell, she was also pretty cruel to my sibling. Especially my brother. He looked too much like my father for her to like. Damn my mother for marrying a man with Italian blood! (I keeed).

Nana was insulting to my mother about her weight, her marriage to my father, her religion, her lacking bank account, etc….She also told my mother that her biological mother was probably a fat whore. The fatness would explain, in Nana’s twisted brain, the fact that my mother was overweight and the whore part explained why my mom’s bio mom gave her up. Interestingly enough, my mother was not overweight as a child. She started gaining weight as a result of Nana’s mental abuse.

All of the above, and more, made me resent Nana. I stopped visiting her as a teenager. Soon thereafter, she acquired dementia and was never herself again. The dementia made her a nicer person, so I hear.

Now that I am nearing 30, I have come to terms that Nana most likely had a rough childhood herself. I know she loved my mom, but just never learned how to show it. That makes me sad for both her and my mother.

So I will wear her pearls and remember the good times I shared with Nana (surprisingly, there were many) every time I crack open the box and catch that scent. I will remember that people make awful mistakes, and that there are often reasons behind them.

Like the Majorica pearls, my grandmother seemed perfect but lacked the characteristics that only nature can provide, like being loved unconditionally by her own family. I forgive her, for this. I also hold my mother in the highest regards for being able to overcome this deficiency, this lack of unconditional love, as she provide us with all the love we needed, even if our house was not filled with treasures and fancy furniture.


Anonymous Laurie said...

Good job Sarah!

I think a lot of people struggle with this. The day I realized my parents raised me the best they knew how and learned from poor examples themselves, I had a new outlook in life and respect for them. They are just people who have had disappointment and hurt, just like me. You never know what someone's been through - until you've walked in their shoes.

Bless her for adopting your mom and uncle.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Miss Bee said...

*tear.... Beautiful!

9:27 PM  
Blogger Tracy Fennell said...

This is a good post.

7:58 PM  
Blogger susieque25 said...

I was to young to remember a lot of this, but I do remember I caused quite a few fights between them. It makes me cry to remember it now as an adult.

2:27 PM  

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