Hiding in the back of my grandmother’s shoe closet sat a dainty black velvet box, collecting dust bunnies for the past thirty years. Its gold accents still shine as though it sees the luminous sunshine day after day. Although the luxurious black box is an image on its own, it’s not the singular item itself but more so what’s encased inside this protective shell and the meaning it holds.
Kathleen Caroline Straits—the woman from whom I inherited my middle name, stubbornness, and infinite sass from. Growing up in rocky Nevada, she came from virtually nothing, putting her blood, sweat, and tears into everything she takes pride in—without a doubt, my biggest role model.
She never possessed the money for fine luxuries, spending every ounce of her money to raise my mother and aunt. I can only wish to be as selfless as she continues to be every day. Pushing family in front of oneself is something that never seems to fail throughout the women in my bloodline.
Although family regulated her heart and became a predominant aspect of life, she lacked the sparkle that vividly shone beneath her pale skin. Recognizing this infinite glisten radiating from her presence, my grandfather gifted her that little black box in an effort to give prominence to that light, hoping it would never get put out.
Opening the shell of the box with her freshly manicured hands on her 40th birthday, she exposed the most dazzling present she had ever received. Inside the velour casing was a singular strand of exquisite cream pearls and a set of pearl earrings—the real kind.
Making an appearance throughout her life clinging to her neck at extravagant events and quaint, intimate moments, these pearls have become more than just fine jewelry.
Just days ago, that elegant black casing was removed from the depths of my grandmother’s closet, exposing its magic to the universe. And on my sixteenth birthday, the small velvet box, accented in a strip of gold film, was placed into my palms.
Seventy-three pearls sat staring up into my starstruck eyes. Not a care of how expensive, or rare, this gift was registered in my frozen mind, only how honored I felt to receive them.
Since before I was out of the womb, I was aware of how much love my grandma possessed for me. Greater than the distance it takes to travel to the stars and back and greater than any numerical value ever created. Although I never had a doubt in my mind how much I am cared for, receiving this precious, glistening gift made me feel an emotion greater than love.
As I wear these pearls in the future, at extravagant parties or on sacred, special occasions, the image of my grandmother will forever shine forth. Even when I have passed and these seventy-three delicate beads are passed generations on, the glimmer of her image, my image, and all the holders of the little velvet box will eternally glisten.