Tag Archives: relationships

Prayerlooms: A family ring and a millennial purse

A few weeks back, I wrote a column about “prayerlooms,” a word I coined for the column to describe those mementos and dear-to-the-heart items that we tuck away for a future generation to enjoy. At the time I invited me readers to share their own, and I was overwhelmed with your responses. This month I am thrilled to share the stories behind two such prayerlooms.

Debbie Valencia sent this wonderful note from Northville, MI, where she lives with her husband, son and daughter (who is now traveling in India). Her prayerloom was from her grandmother Annie Laurie.

ring“I turned 16 in 1976 and my southern belle grandmother gave me her single solitaire diamond ring from her teen years. Later she passed on to me her spinster sister’s, the second set into an onyx. My fiance felt honored to use my two diamonds when creating my engagement ring. Some 25 years later, we designed a new ring. My great-aunt’s and grandmother’s stones now flank an emerald from my husband’s father’s Colombian homeland. The original bands were sold to the jeweler to offset costs. In addition to her ring, my grandmother’s prayerloom for me was her belief too that I would expand her love as I cherished the two small sister diamonds .What an honor to feel there are no better diamonds but these two for me!”

Judith Goodman, a friend from synagogue, wrote to me about a little purse she bought at the tail end of the 20th century, to celebrate the new millennia. In the course of our correspondence, she decided not only to put the purse away for her baby granddaughter, but has included a letter to her to open, maybe at the turn of the next century. Here’s her story:

goodman“In late 1999, I bought this purse embroidered all over with “2000.” Found it at Lord & Taylor, made in China, not expensive. I used it a few times for holiday parties. When I bought it, I remember thinking that if I had a purse with “1900” on it from a great-grandmother I would think it was cool, and maybe in year 2100 one of my descendants will do the same.

“Now I have a granddaughter, Tessa Rose Goodman, born in July. When the year changes to 2100, she will be 87, but hopefully she and her children and grandchildren will still be partying!”

THANK YOU to all the readers who have sent me such stories—and, yes, I’ve saved some for future columns. So, if your story did not appear today, look for future columns on this theme. Please, tell friends by using either the blue-“f” Facebook links with this column, or the small envelope-shaped email icons. Add a Comment below. Let’s keep this cycle of stories going!

Anti-spouse Pronouns

CompetitionHow does something as small as a possessive pronoun hold so many years of disdain, frustration, and enmity? I’m talking about the possessive pronouns used by ex-spouses. Not the “my” as in “my ex-husband” or “my former wife”. But the “your” as in “your mother”. Or the “her” as in “her father”. Came across the locution recently and was struck once again at how choosing one small possessive pronoun over another not only shifts the meaning but also shifts the responsibility from adult shoulders onto wee shoulders already weighted with confusion and loss.

“Her father” had forgotten to do something for their child. Not as bad as forgetting to pick her up at school and leaving her there all night but an oversight that was enough to cause a painful, if temporary, consequence. For the mother it was just one more reason why she had removed the man from her life. And by phrasing it “her father forgot” instead of “my ex forgot” the entire ownership of the bumbler is shifted to the party who’s most innocent in this whole scenario — the child.

“Your father……” “Your mother……” Doesn’t matter what comes after; the ensuing verbs are irrelevant. It’s the animus behind those two words that hangs in the air. Because when a child hears, “Your father did so and so” or “Your mother did such and such” then the child in question, who is the only one still linked to the offender, is also guilty by association. Through no fault of her own, the child owns the sub-standard parent and thus the dastardly deed being aired by the other (often rightfully) frustrated parent.

So here’s something to think about. Next time an ex-spouse’s shortcoming rears its head and the temptation to use one of those ownership-shifting pronouns pops up — bring it back home. Say, “my ex-spouse forgot to buy the poster board” or “my ex-spouse is taking me to the cleaners.” Or better yet use a given name. “Joe forgot to pack lunches…” “Susie forgot to send in the tuition…”

Putting the pronouns where they belong changes the equation of the complaint. Putting the pronouns where they belong frees a child to resent his parent if he wants to, or have compassion, or just shrug and go on with life, leaving the enmity where it began — in the hands and hearts of the adults.