What is a Giver of Trinkets Anyway?

Photo credit: Anna O’Keefe

I promised in January that I would share what a Giver of Trinkets is and how I found myself with this little job.

I was 12 when it started. The first gift was actually to me. I asked the funeral director, a man with soft gray eyes and a gentle manner, if I could have my mom’s wedding rings, the small set she no longer wore which was replaced by the fancier set Dad had given to her for their 25th wedding anniversary just months before she died.

A blood clot was sudden and painless. One moment she was there and the next gone. My dad had decided to put the rings in her pocket. She had worn them for all those 25 years and he felt they needed to go with her to the great beyond.

All of us, my sister, brother, and dad, were already in the limo. The funeral director was helping to guide the casket out the double doors. But before it was halfway out of the building something propelled me from the car. Pushing my dad and brother out of the way, I ran without thought grabbing the director’s sleeve. I blurted out to him, “I want my mom’s rings.” He smiled at me. I mean actually smiled at this crazy child who just interrupted his procession. But I will always remember that smile and the gentle way he knelt down to my level.

He bent his head close to my ear and said, “I have been waiting for you to ask.” His words are forever kept in my heart. He gently patted my head and told me to go back to the car and he would bring them to me. How did he even know? A question of my lifetime.

A few minutes later he opened the limo door and with an ease I wish I possessed, he slipped a bunch of tissues into my jacket pocket. “The extra tissues you asked for,” and patted my hand. No one questioned this seemingly odd gesture. After all, the limo was festooned with boxes of tissues. I have always contributed my family’s lack of response to the shock and weight of the grief we each had been holding in our broken hearts.

Much later that day, after my mom had been laid down in a deep hole and covered with red dirt and wilted flowers, I sat on the floor of my closet, hiding behind winter coats and last year’s Easter dress. I unwrapped my tissues and there were her rings. A very thin gold band and an even smaller diamond ring, the kind so popular in the late 40s when my parents got married.

I hid the rings, wanting to keep them safe. A talisman for my little broken heart. Many times during those dark years, between my mom’s death and my dad’s when I was 18, I would take the rings out of their hiding place, put them on my fingers, kiss them gently. Hold them to my heart. They had become the link between us. The only connection I had. A tiny gold thread, soul to soul. Dead mother to barely living daughter.

I was a little lost soul for so many years. But I treasured those rings. Still do. I have worn them off and on for my entire life. The past many years I have not even taken them off. I have now owned them for longer than they were on her finger. Even so they will always be Mom’s rings.

With that gift to me, I became a Giver of Trinkets, although I did not know it. I didn’t give it much thought. In the years that followed I would want something so badly I thought I would burst but as soon as I got it, I would give it to someone else. Someone who seemed much happier with it than I would have been. This seemingly odd behavior baffled people in my life, but I never questioned it. Never wondered why.

[Editor’s note: To be continued tomorrow. . . ]