September 01, 2013

The Jewels of Rosie Criddle



I’m the sentimental one in my family, clinging to nostalgia like a forgotten scent dancing anew on the nostrils; a sashaying, shimmering sense of something long gone, filling my head and heart with dizzy, fragrant memories of a nature most intoxicating. It is my daily delight to dally and daydream, a pleasure all of my own.

So fitting, it would seem, that the jewellery of both my grandmothers should be given to my care after they passed. ‘Precious’ jewels distributed evenly, of course, but the smaller pieces mine, all mine. I bookend the word precious because who is to say after one has departed which and what holds the most value. Sometimes even the brightest diamond cannot extinguish the sweetest of stories behind the plainest of objects. A small, smooth pebble might be the dearest tale you’ll ever or never tell, safely tucked away under the lid of your treasure chest alongside other pieces of your history until your granddaughter lays them out carefully, wondering from whence they came.
Of the two of my grandmothers, I knew very little of Nana, my father’s mother. That’s not to say that we didn’t spend time together, we certainly did, but she never gave anything more of herself than a wonderful lunchtime spread, a cracking cup of tea and a quiet, maternal generosity. She is an enigma I will never come to uncover. It will forever be that I know little more of her than this.

And so the jewellery she left behind, mostly brooches, speaks softly to me, whispering glimmering peels of light that cast images of her in my mind. I imagine her old hands peering at these little jewels from time to time and expressions on her face make fodder for my thoughts.
When I wear a piece of hers, tales tentatively whir, flashes flicker of her as a small girl in the Welsh countryside. I see boxes wrapped in bows on birthdays, shy young boys tenderly handing her velvet pouches and her eyes eagerly choosing 'that one please' at glassy counters.

I see little Rosie Criddle with a brooch on her cardigan. Then Rose Criddle the quiet young woman who married a man named Daniel with silver glinting on her dress, gave him Ian and then David, and finally became the woman I knew, Rose Gurteen.

While I may never quite have known her in her fullest capacity, I'm warmed to have pieces of her that could otherwise have been lost or tucked away in a closed box. The jigsaw pieces of Rosie Criddle create stories true of her or of my own complete fancy, inspired by her memory. 

They remain well-worn, well-loved and dearly remembered.

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