A Strand of Pearls is Not Just Jewelry, It is a Circle of Love

6 Jul

 

To me wearing my pearls infuses them with love.

To me wearing my pearls infuses them with love.

I wear two strands of pearls to every family wedding. One strand, the longer one, belonged to my mother-in-law, Lee. She died when she was only 59, but I know that she would want to be at every wedding of her grandchildren and family members. The other strand, is slightly shorter, but has a lovely clasp. It belonged to my Mom, Fran. She also loved weddings and would want to be at every family wedding! Amazingly both strands of pearls have the same size pearls. And they look so good together.

Last night I wore the pearls to the latest family wedding, our niece. The pearls came up in conversation, and I told my brother-in-law, and another nephew and niece, why I wore two strands. My brother-in-law said, “I know they are here.” And my nephew and niece, who knew my Mom but not his own Grandma, said, “Your Mom would have loved the weddings.” And it is true.

It makes me feel as if these two wonderful women were there with us when I wear these necklaces. Pearls are so warm. And to me their glow sends off the warmth of love.

Pearls have much meaning in my family. My grandmother had opera length pearls. And my mother had them made into three necklaces, once for each of her granddaughters. As they turned 18, each girl was presented with the pearl necklace from my mother.

Unfortunately she passed away a few months before the youngest turned 18.   My Dad had us present the pearls to my niece in the hospital where my mother was soon to die. I know it was a difficult time for my niece. But I hope as time has passed she realizes how much her grandparents loved her and how important it was for my Dad, her Grandpa, that she get the pearls while Grandma was still alive.

My Great grandmother, for whom I am named, gave my Grandma a strand of pearls in Europe in 1932. They would have been mine. But another relative stole the pearls while she was in Europe. She always suspected who had taken them.

Over 40 years later he wrote her a letter. He had survived the Shoah, but his entire family had been killed, his wife and his children. He blamed himself. He believed that if he had not stolen the pearls, they would have lived.

I know this because I met him. I was living in Israel at the time. My Grandma Thelma wrote to me to meet up with “the goniff.” He was going to give me 400 lira…about $100 at the time. I was to take some of the money and buy myself something and give the rest of the money to my great uncle.

I met Zissel and he told me his story. He was a sad, sad man. He told me how his family had died and the horrible things that occurred to him. He told me how he had stolen the pearls.

“Your grandmother went into the bathroom to bath. When she came out the pearls were on the sink. I thought, she lives in America; she is rich. I can use these pearls more than she can. And I took them. Now everyone is dead, and it is my fault.” Zissel and I both cried as he told me the story. I was only 19 years old. The pain of that day lives with me. He believed if he paid my Grandma back, it would take away some of the guilt. I hope it did.

I began to visit him whenever I was in Tel Aviv. He worked in a bakery across from the giant shuk. I would meet him there, get a pastry and tea and talk to him Sometimes I would go back to his apartment.

When my parents came to visit me in Israel, I took them to see Zissel as well. His Yiddish was much better than his Hebrew. So when my parents came, he spoke mainly to them in Yiddish. He told more stories. And my mother and I cried along with him. I hope that his sad soul found peace.

The pearls were a bond between Zissel and me.

And so for me pearls, any pearls, have a story to tell. My mother-in-law’s
pearls and my mother’s pearls will be filled with joy as they experience only happy events. Every wedding will bring happiness to these pearls. And the sadness of the pearls that Zissel took will be wiped away.

The pearls my daughter and nieces have are also filled with love. And when I see them wearing my mother’s/grandmother’s pearls, their great-grandma, I know that the love of these two women are surrounding them.

A strand of pearls is not just a piece of jewelry, it is a circle of love.

 

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