Special Keys and the Great Before

August 21, 2019

Silver Skeleton Key Cuff Handmade Bracelet Vintage Skeleton Key

Howdy Jewelry Fans! As you may remember, August is my Birthday Month. My Birthday gets me feeling all grateful for my Mom (I mean, I wouldn’t be here without her), and also gets me all misty eyed and grateful for my Grandma (I mean, my Mom wouldn’t be here without her). My Grandma has passed on the next stage of energy, but there are so many memories of her that keep her Spirit and Love alive inside me. I mean Grandma’s are magical creatures sent to Earth to bring Wonder and Joy into the lives of the people around them. Am I right?   

And that’s just what I remember her doing.

As I think about my Grandma, I remember the apartment she shared with her sister, my Great Aunt, Connie in Clifton, NJ. I remember her car, a magical silvery blue Comet where I was granted the powerful privilege of sitting in the front (as the youngest of 4, this didn’t happen often!). I remember her, a vibrant woman walking to the store every day, traveling by bus around the country to paint and her melodic voice as she told me stories of a life in NYC before retirement. I know Millennials think they have the corner on Unicorns and Rainbows, but let me tell you, my Grandma invented them!!!

 It fascinated me as a child that the adults around me had a “BEFORE”. A time before I was with them. A time Before I came to know them, to be loved by them. A time Before, that I knew almost nothing about. I listened carefully to their stories. You can ask my Mom. I would sit quietly as the grown-ups in the family gathered to talk about the topics of the day, the topics of the past, and how all of it made them feel. Rumor has it that I learned Italian from listening to my father’s parents and tracked their fights and conversations with ease.

But the Before. A powerful tug to a little girl awash in a world of gas lines, post-Vietnam politics and growing up.

I learned that in my Grandma’s Before, a life where she didn’t have the white hair (which I now have), and gentle wrinkles around her eyes and mouth when she smiled (which I now have), she lived in New York City. She lived in flats that needed coal. She lived with her 5 brothers and sisters and her dad was a baker. They spoke Hungarian and cooked Hungarian. They had these big, special keys that opened their doors, their wardrobes, the boxes that stored their Silver and their Tea. Imagine a world where Tea was so special, you locked it up in box so no swiping hands made off with the best tea in the house for a secret cup of brew.

My Grandma, Anne, had a ring of these special keys, her skeleton keys. They opened her cedar lined wardrobe, her jewelry box; they opened all her special places. And my Grandma opened these special places to me, the quiet runt of the litter who was trying to record every word in my head. I marveled at her clothes, hand made by this magical woman for herself and my Mother and Aunt, in a day where not everyone could afford to stroll into Bergdorf’s and purchase a garment right off the rack. The jewelry in her box, pieces she told me had little value, were the sparkliest, most rare items in my little girl life.

Oh. Did I mention, she let me try them all on? My sister would join me, and we’d twirl and giggle, passing the hot summer afternoons and the cold winter days suspended in the magic of my Grandma’s Before.

I didn’t understand that one day she wouldn’t be here to tell me the stories. That the Magic she created with her Words and her Love would have to linger in my Heart and Soul until I see her again in a future time. I didn’t understand the passing of life, into adulthood, into the world and out of her Before would be as amazingly painful and beautiful as it has been.

But I think she knew, as adults magically know things that small girls don’t know. She knew I had my life ahead of me, the making of my path, with my own sparkling moments, the making of my Before. I think she knew she wouldn’t see all of my Before and she poured all her Magic and Heart and Soul into me so that my Before, like her Before, would be so special I’d need a special key to keep it safe, and true and pure.  

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