Of all the presents I’ve received for Mother’s Day, this necklace is the most meaningful to me.
One night about three months after Bing passed away, Akemi approached my desk. “Uhh, Mom,” she started. “Yes, sweetheart?” I said, looking up from the computer. And she hemmed and hawed her way through a few more false starts at a conversation. I waited.
“Well, okay, well. . .how do you order something from a catalog if you don’t have a credit card?” she finally spit out. Not knowing yet where this was headed, I opted to get more information. “Well,” I asked in return, “is there something you would like to order from a catalog?”
With heart-touching anguish, she said, “Daddy always bought your Mother’s Day present, and I don’t know how to do it by myself.”
Never mind that cousin Karen, among others, had offered to take her shopping. I will never forget that tortured look on her face as she told me something she didn’t think I knew, and how that look revealed how inadequate and alone she felt in this endeavor.
It was my turn to say, “Well.” I knew how dissatisfying it felt when my mother said, “I don’t want any presents for Mother’s Day; I just want you to be good.” By now I could see she was holding something behind her back. Purposefully opted for what I hoped was a non-platitudinal approach, I offered, “If you see something in a catalogue you’d like to get me, why don’t you show me and we can order it together?” Enormous relief crossed her face as she brought forth a catalogue with a dog-eared page.
Blue seed pearls with beads of green peridot, my August birthstone, on a handmade sterling silver chain: I would have loved whatever she picked out, but I have to say she really nailed it with this selection. I told her I loved it, I really did, and with her standing there, picked up phone to place the order.
That 2003 Mother’s Day, I received many compliments when I wore it to church. When Janice heard it was my Mother’s Day present, she grabbed my hand and said, “Wait, did Bing pick it out in advance?” No, but maybe he sent her the inspiration to pursue this. The universal reaction to this story was a combination of tears and, “You didn’t first tell her not to get you anything, right?”
I continue to receive compliments whenever I wear it, not just on Mother’s Day. The chocolate passed out at church and other good wishes on the day are nice, but no other remembrance is necessary, really, beyond my yearly opportunity to wear this necklace.