I looked in my tiny jewelry box this morning and stared at a piece of timeworn jewelry, a piece with a true story behind it.
My Aunt Nancy, now in her mid-eighties, has always been that unique, creative, thoughtful aunt who took me “good deal” shopping, hid silver coins (for me to find) in the backseat of her car, and made photo books documenting my childhood in Maine. Nancy, a now-retired art teacher, came up with a clever way to share my grandmother’s vintage charm bracelet, which jingled with Victorian inspired, silhouette cameos. Nancy decided to share a cameo with each of her five nieces, so that each of us could enjoy the memory. I watched as cousins made their charms into necklaces and displayed them in memory boxes. I, however, never received mine. Nancy vehemently insisted that she gave it to me while on holiday in Florida, but, from my heavyhearted perspective, it was gone for good.
I moved to Atlanta for college in 1990, graduated in 1994, married in 1996, and moved into my first home in 1997. All those years, the mystery of the cameo was a source of contention when it crept into conversations between my aunt and me- she steadfastly insisted that she gave it to me, and I, just as resolutely, avowed that I’d never received it. This was a stalemate that would last for nearly two decades.
I had a vivid dream in 2008. I was at the check-out in a local Walmart store. I looked down at the slender finger of the cashier, and noticed her unique ring. Recognition flooded my dream mind. This ring beheld the exact bronze-backed, white silhouetted cameo that was on the antique charm bracelet my aunt had so carefully distributed to my cousins years ago. In the dream, I remarked to the cashier how beautiful the ring was, and told her about my grandmother’s charm bracelet. The cashier stopped scanning my items and looked me so deeply in the eye it felt like her energy entered my bloodstream. She said, “This was my grandmother’s charm, too. I had a friend make it into a ring after I found it in her garage.”
The next morning, I told my family about the dream over breakfast, and went about my day. We were packing to move, and going through very old boxes in the garage. After opening and sealing boxes for hours, I was about to quit for the day, when I opened a bin full of shoe boxes. I opened one of them, fully aware of the potential rabbit hole I was entering, and found a host of saved letters and cards. “Ah,” I thought. “This was a box that I recovered from mom and dad’s house…” I opened a letter from my beloved grandmother, Mildred, and read her familiar handwriting with a nostalgic smile. I opened and read a handful of greeting cards from high school and college graduations, a few from special people who have since moved on to Heaven.
At the bottom of this box of cards and letters was a large, sealed, yellow envelope addressed to me. It was my Aunt Nancy’s handwriting- I recognized it from thirty years of letter correspondence. I opened this envelope , and carefully unwrapped the letter, which described the significance of the gift enclosed. This letter held, in it’s protective grasp, a tiny baggy containing a gift: the cameo!
The treasure was recovered. Nancy and I were both right- she gave me the cameo, and I never got it- it lay buried and unopened for years in a box moved to my garage from my home in Florida. I have never been one to put much faith in the foreshadowing of dreams, but I will always wonder about this dream, and that Walmart cashier with the ring on her finger…