When Mom’s dementia deteriorated to the point where she could no longer resist our help, my brother and I moved her into an Alzheimer’s facility near my house. Now that our relationship has changed so dramatically (I’m the caretaker and she’s the child), I’ve been searching for a way to write about our difficult relationship. What I’ve decided on instead, is to take a different route. Rather than focus on our relationship directly, I’ll focus on my journey through her jewelry boxes. I’m expecting that I might end up in the same place, but without having to confront all the difficult issues directly. It just feels better to focus on the good stuff.
Mom’s a fashionista and a jewelry maniac. She had a passion for collecting bold jewelry from around the globe and around the corner. (I am finding it hard to not use the past tense when writing about Mom, so if I slip now and then, please forgive me.)
As I’ve pondered this project, the many reasons for doing it are very clear to me. First, writing about Mom has been a nagging undercurrent for me for many years. But I have a huge barrier against sitting down and directly addressing the many facets of our mostly tumultuous relationship. So, reason number one is the ability to address our relationship from a side door: to do the thing, without coming at it with a bulldozer.
Reason number two is that she loved her jewelry collection, and this is a way to honor her spirit. My mom loved collecting all kinds of things. And she also loved imagining that each individual treasure had great value. Things she collected included books, clothes, treasures from her travels, sheets of US stamps, and apparently kitchen napkins (but I think that was just her disease progressing.) I’m told by the gals who helped me clean up her house, that there were twenty-two packages of napkins in her kitchen.
In doing this project, I am forgiving myself for cleaning out her house, and donating most of her things. If she knew, she would kill me. Really. I mean it. I donated things that she would have preferred that I either keep (but where would I put them all?) or that I find the one of the five people on earth who collect those kinds of things and would have paid a pretty penny for it. I guess what she would have wanted was that I photograph each individual thingy or item of clothing, and put it on eBay. But I didn’t. So, in doing this one thing (which I really think she would have liked, if she could have understood it) I am making up for all those other things that simply went to woman’s shelters, Goodwill, and so on.
So, that’s it. I’m blogging about jewelry to create a tribute to my Mom, her eye for fashion and her bold spirit
I’ll be joined in my blogging efforts by my talented sister-in-law, Shoey Sindel, Berkeley photographer extraordinaire, who will be snapping the jewelry photos. Working with Shoey is just one more benefit of diving into this project. When I mentioned it to her, she was immediately enthusiastic, and for that I’m grateful. Who wants to hear that their ideas are harebrained? So, whether this is truly harebrained or not, here we go!
Now a few organizational tips. I’ll be blogging about a new piece of jewelry about twice a week for a year, so we’ll be covering about 100 pieces of jewelry. You’ll find those posts listed under the “The Jewelry Blog” tab. Reader submitted stories are listed under their own tab, and are some of the best stuff here, so be sure not to miss them. Better yet, join us by submitting your memory here.
P.S. Have questions or comments you don’t want to post here? You can reach me via my support desk Reply To Barbara.
P.P.S. Don’t we look fab in these pix? Here’s the rest of the photo shoot.
P.P.P.S. Apr 15, 2010: We are officially launched now with this press release over at PRWeb.