The pearls were to cover the scar on my mother’s neck after a surgery. I had taken a leave of absence from my publishing job in New York to be home in Virginia with mom while she recovered.
When my father suggested I go with him to buy pearls for my mother, I was shocked. It was the last thing I expected from him. I was actually a little annoyed that he wanted to go shopping instead of straight to the hospital to see her.
Honestly, I thought I better go with him because he might just buy the first thing he saw. But I was more surprised than shocked at the care he took selecting the pearls. He wanted a double strand so they would cover her scar. He held them up to my neck to see if they were too short or too long. He even talked with the jeweler about returning them to be altered if they did not lay just right on mom’s neck.
My dad was not a sentimental man. Nor was he a wealthy man. Yet he called to me to come back as I was hurrying us out the door of the jewelry store.
He was tapping a glass display case that held a single strand of pearls that I had been admiring. I had no idea he had seen me looking at them.
“We’ll take these, also,” he said to the proprietor. Many years later, I would wear them on my wedding day. I still keep them in their original black velvet case. After my father died, 40 years ago, I placed my black mourner’s ribbon next to the pearls.
My dad and I were at odds on many issues.
“What do you mean you want to go to New York and have a career? Don’t you want to get married and have a family?”
Most of the time, I didn’t even bother to verbally spar with him. I just let the resentments build up until they tipped over like building blocks and scattered through the years. Looking back, I see now that I erected a wall that did not allow in any good traits he might have had.
One of the gifts of aging for me has been the possibility of softening hardened feelings. This year, on Father’s Day, I am giving myself a present of some good memories of my father. And I’ll wear the pearls he gave to my mother.
Two strands to comfort the hurt.
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