As a little girl, one of my favourite people in the whole world was my maternal grandmother. Gramma Nicholls always saved the plastic toys inside the Shreddies box for me and let me help her bake chocolate chip cookies when I went to visit. I have fond memories of her little garden in Collingwood, shelling peas on her back porch and drinking the little bottles of Mountain Dew she kept in the fridge. I also remember the sound she made going up or down the stairs. Since she always held the handrail, there was a clicking sound as her ring landed on the wood. To this day, when I hear that same little noise when my own ring hits the bannister, I think of her.
Her ring was not an expensive one. She had a family ring, with a stone for each of her children: Margaret, Donald, Shirley and my mother, Pauline. The stones were not real jewels, but little pieces of glass set in yellow gold. I always liked it, and some years ago, received it from my mother. It reminds me that the true worth of our possessions is determined not by their monetary value, but by the way they evoke warm memories and inspire us to appreciate those we love.
My husband, knowing my fondness for Gramma’s ring, and knowing that I have thought about my own family ring someday, created a special Mother’s Day adventure for me. On that Sunday, after a picnic in the park, all six of us visited a nearby nursery. He had researched our birthstones, and each of us was to choose a flower in the same colour. “You can pot them up,” he said, “and make a family ring in flowers.” It took a little while (which I never mind on a trip to the nursery!) but eventually we chose:
- Yellow marigolds for November (topaz)
- White sunshine impatients for October (opal)
- Blue Lobelia for September (sapphire)
- Red geranium for July (ruby)
- Burgundy sweet potato vine for January (garnet)
- White geranium for June (pearl)
Poking our noses around the nursery my husband also discovered a small piece of wood that said simply, “Family”. I am not usually one for that kind of thing, but it seemed perfect for our project, and the fact that it was on sale for a dollar struck me as a divine sign! Then I chose a plain little pot so as not to upstage the blooms, and planted it all up the day after Mother’s Day. My blooming gems are now happily living just outside the back door where I can look out from the kitchen and see them through the patio doors. The kids are quite delighted that they helped create something so imortant for their mom. I find that looking at it inspires me to gratitude for special people, both past and present. Family gemstones, indeed.