February 21, 2015: Grandma's Necklace

A couple of days ago we had a team meeting at work. The main topic centered around serving our patients and what good service really meant. My heart tugged at the core theme of our conversation, kindness. Real, authentic, daily acts of kindness.

Stories were told on both the receiving and giving of good service. All included a genuine act of goodwill to serve another. With purity of motive in simply wanting to care for another, an act of kindness cannot be measured in the size of the deed. The smallest actions can produce the largest rewards to the recipient.

I shared a story of kindness given to a client in my prior life that later blossomed into a big business opportunity for me. My original act had no motive, but resulted in an unexpected gift back many years later.

As others shared stories of good service and the importance of authenticity in our actions, my head swirled with my own receipt of small acts of kindness over my lifetime. These acts resonated with me and my own personal journey.

Near and dear on my mind that day was the gift of Grandma's necklace. I felt it around my neck as our team met. A gentle reminder of someone special whom I had never meant. An act of kindness from one human to another. Authentic was the intent of the giver to share a piece of his life with me. It was equally golden to me as the recipient. It touched my heart to know the extra effort and thoughtfulness behind the gift.

The story of Grandma's necklace began with a box I received in the mail last fall. It followed a visit from Garrett's dad, Larry. The box was carefully addressed to me in perfectly handwritten block lettering. I do love surprises and I was thrilled to come home from work to this unexpected package from Larry.

In the box was a leather-scented candle and a necklace. My heart was full of warmth as I pictured my father-in-law, a hunter and maverick to the core of his being, choosing a candle with the scent of leather (who knew?). I pictured him looking through a rack of necklaces to choose this silver, pink and bone-beaded decorative jewel. I loved my surprise gifts and wore the necklace the next day, constantly reminded of Larry's thoughtfulness.

I shared my genuine appreciation of his gift via a phone message and thank-you note. A week later, I received another box in the mail from Larry. This time it was filled with a cameo necklace on a gold chain with a matching bone china jewelry box. Overwhelmed with his generosity and kindness to me, I immediately called him. Larry shared with me a bit of history of these necklaces that I was not aware. The necklaces he gave were those of his mother, Mabel. He saved them after she passed away and wanted me to have them.

Overwhelmed with this act of kindness, the necklace in my hands filled my head with thoughts of a woman I had heard so much about, but had never met. She had placed this same necklace around her own neck. The jewelry box had surely been placed on her own dressing and was now carefully placed on mine. And the pink and silver necklace that was taken out for my own special occasions was likely a favorite for Mabel as well. I gushed at the thought.

When Garrett and I first started dating we would spend hours talking about the first two chapters of our lives. This storytelling in terms of chapters came up on our first date. I asked Garrett to tell me about his 'Chapter 1'. Confused with my question, he asked what this meant. I went on to explain that I thought of my life in chapters.

He and I had spent a lot of our initial conversations discussing Chapter 2, which was the chapter covering our marriages and raising our own families. We were now on to a new chapter, I explained. Chapter 3. This post-marriage chapter now began with he and I in the first pages of each other's new chapter.

But what about Garrett's Chapter 1? I wanted to know about the very beginning. Before wife and kids were in his storybook, who were the characters in his life who shaped him to be the person he was today?

Garrett was a little taken aback by my question. He later told me that few women he dated asked or seemed interested in his background pre-marriage. Many did most of the talking or asked questions on things that would affect them today. Although Garrett found my question curious, he humored me in his Chapter 1. And I intently listened. It was a great chapter and provided me context on Garrett as a person, as well as the impact of his parents and extended family.

Over chips and margaritas, Garrett told me how his parents divorced when he was between the age of a baby and a toddler. His father raised him. Larry moved little Garrett to Indiana where they lived with Garrett's grandparents until Larry remarried years later.

Garrett described in great detail how impactful Grandma Mabel's influence was on him at this early age. Gentle and kind, she was a retired teacher who taught Garrett his ABC's and peaked his interest in being a forever learner with a love for school.

When I asked why he chose aerospace engineering as a college major, Garrett eyes lit up as he told me a story about his Grandma Mabel that shaped his love for space.

Just four years old, Garrett was awoken by his grandma in the middle of the night. As he sat quietly on his grandmother's lap, together they watched Apollo 11 land on the moon via a black and white television set. With teary eyes, Mabel explained to Garrett the importance of what was happening live before their eyes. As Garrett told me this story with the same teary eyes of his grandma, I felt as though I was in the same room as Mabel and little Garrett that magical night forty years ago.

My prized necklaces are worn often and are beside my own Grandma Marvel's gold jewelry box on my bedroom dresser. I wish I would have met Mabel. But I will always be thankful to Larry for his kindness in sharing a piece of her with me. I am honored. And each time I touch the necklace, I am reminded of Mabel and how the little acts we do and words we use can forever impact the lives of others.


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