In her later years, my mother wore a simple necklace, a gold-plated fleur-de-lis through which she tied a black shoe string, every day. Etched on its surface in the tiniest of print is the name Mary King Hilsman Pettigrew, my mother's mother. When Mom died, I inherited the necklace. Me, the one person in the family who doesn't like to wear jewelry other than watches. I don't know why I don't like to wear jewelry. For some reason, I have had a lifelong aversion to the feel of cool chains or pendants on my neck and on my wrists. So my mother's necklace has stayed largely hidden away since her death.
White Protestant that I am, I have also never really understood the attraction of religious medals or icons , or the invocation of one's ancestors.
Two days ago, looking for something else, I found the fleur-de-lis necklace--at the end of several months of never ending chaos and long-festering anger, frustration, and powerlessness because the quality of life where I live has been severely compromised. This week, after they announced that my apartment needed to be treated for the fifth time for bedbugs , the stress of those months erupted into a full-blown depression , and when I found the necklace, something led me to put it on. I've been wearing it ever since , although I will put it away for safekeeping while they spray tomorrow. Otherwise the careless people who pack up my stuff and and have now done two heat treatments and sprayed my room with god-knows-what chemicals twice may well damage or lose it.
I'm still not sure what I think about religious medals, and neither my mother nor my grandmother were hugely religious. They were certainly not saints. All I know is that I feel some almost desperate need for the strength, love, and presence of two strong women who adored me.