Barry’s birthday was one of the nights that Barry and I enjoy most of all.
A celebration. All the kids. All the grandkids.
And an angel.
It has been rainy and unseasonably cool in New England this week, but Barry’s “back deck” birthday party went beautifully well. It didn’t rain. It was warm enough for short sleeves. And there’s nothing quite like burgers and dogs on the grill and then a birthday cake with candles to enthrall 9 grandchildren.
And one special angel. Flo.
Flo came to us at Barry’s celebration in so many ways. One way was through her wedding band. From the moment I first met Flo, I admired her wedding band. It is sterling silver with little engravings that have almost all worn off over the decades that she wore it. She told me many times that it is all Barry’s father could afford when they were married. She cherished that wedding band. It is unusually wide, which looked rather glamourous on her very slim fingers. Several years ago, on my wedding anniversary, Flo gave her wedding band to me as a gift. I was so touched and honored at this message of love to me. I, too, have a sterling silver wedding band. It is all we could afford when Barry and I were married, and I cherish it today as much as I did the day Barry slipped it on my finger. It cost $32.00 and I still wear it today. I have never taken it off.
As I said, Flo’s fingers were long and slender. Mine are not. So instead of wearing it on a finger, I wear it as a necklace. I mostly wear it on very special occasions… like Barry’s birthday!
I have also become the “keeper”… of sorts… of all of Flo’s jewelry. She had lots and lots of costume jewelry and she loved to wear lots and lots of it. Necklaces. Earrings, both pierced and clip-on. Bracelets. Pins. And among these things were her medals of saints and other religious items. When Flo passed, I spent hours going through each piece of jewelry, remembering each piece on her and each occasion she wore it to. Flo was very particular about outfits and colors and her jewelry to match. Everything was meticulously organized in little cases, big cases, boxes and bins and bags. And behind her bedroom door was a vintage necklace organizer with many of her necklaces. These pieces ARE Flo… they look like her, they feel like her, they smell like her. I wrapped each of these boxes and bins and bags and the necklace holder and brought them home to live with us. My thought was to give, a little at a time, these beautiful pieces of Flo to her 3 granddaughters, Cassie, Audrey and Jane… and to her 3 great-granddaughters, Taylor, Maddie and Chloe.
But back to Barry’s birthday. Flo was here in her wedding ring. She was here in a yellow balloon that Audrey brought. Her touch was here in the food, the recipes, her serving dishes and trays that she loved and loved to use, the grandkids. And when everyone had left except Keith and his children Taylor and Andrew, Flo was still here. How do I know this? Barry and I were cleaning up the kitchen, and Taylor, who is 8 years old and the oldest of all the grandchildren, asked, “Grandma, do you have any jewelry of Nana-Flo’s that we could look at?” Keith said in his most fatherly voice, “It’s almost 9:00 and Andrew has school tomorrow. We have to go.”
But that day had been Taylor’s last day of school and she was sad that next year she will be going to another school. She had been given a very special set of rosary beads by her friends and she could not find it. All of this… plus being a grandma… I got to say, “Come with me and I’ll show you Nana-Flo’s things.” And Taylor, Andrew and I headed upstairs to the white wicker bureau that Nana-Flo had owned and loved, to a special drawer where Nana-Flo’s jewelry still waits to be loved. And box by box, bag by bag, we sat on the floor and we unwrapped all the magnificence that is Nana-Flo. Taylor was awed. Andrew could not get over the little purse that transforms into a big white sun hat. And then, there in the center of all of this wonder… Taylor picked up a tiny white purse with the words “My Rosary” written in gold on it. She opened the purse. Inside was a set of red rosary beads. I told Taylor that Nana-Flo kept that tiny white purse in whatever pocketbook Nana was carrying at the time. Taylor’s eyes were wide with wonder and I felt Flo in her. I said to Taylor, “Would you like to have this special gift to keep?” And she told me again of her last day of school and the rosary beads that her friends had given her… and now this most special gift from Nana-Flo had appeared.
It was time for The Keeper of the Goods to give away the first gift.
This is how I know that Flo is still here. You see, she gave me the “goods” to keep protected… but they will always be hers to give away. Flo spent her life giving her things away, and I could not have asked for a more perfect day or time or place to watch Flo from heaven give away the first of many, many of her earthly gifts from her heavenly place.
I could feel her smile.