The Necklace of Redemption.

Ruth Thompson Lloyd (1919-2011)

Melodies like morning rise
Darkness leaning toward the dawn
Into our sorrow sings the light
Beautiful redemption song      -from Redemption Song

Ruth and Nana were friends for about as long as I’ve been on this earth, if not longer.  They would go to the mall every Saturday together, stopping off at Gwendolyn’s Homemade Ice Cream Parlor for lunch, ice cream and pie.  They shared secrets, happiness, sorrows and pain. They were like sisters to each other… we knew that when Ruth passed away, Nana would take it hard.  Ruth battled terminal cancer.  Nana visited her up until the day that she went to heaven.

While visiting with Nana this weekend, she and I were having a snack in the parlor and chatting.  I asked Nana how she was doing since Ruth passed. 

There was a short pause, then she began; “I’m really doing okay, I knew it was her time to go.  The cancer was making her very sick and in a lot of pain.”

Nana shook her head, ” I just wish I would have been a better friend to her at times.”

The comment caught me off guard.  The comment was very unlike Nana. 

She pressed on; “I went to Rome many years ago.  And because Ruth was my best friend, I decided that I would bring her back something nice.  I shopped for hours and finally found the perfect gift for Ruth: a hand-blown glass crystal and onyx necklace.”

She paused, sipped from her glass of water, then continued;  “It was breathtakingly beautiful.  So much that, when I got home from my trip, I decided that I would keep it for myself.  I found something else in my packages that I could give to Ruth, and I kept the necklace for myself.”

Benjamin the dog jumped up into her lap and she gently pet him as she stared straight ahead, lost in her own thoughts.  I couldn’t think of anything to say to break the silence, so I just let her sit and think for a bit. 

“I always felt bad that I kept the necklace.”, she continued the story as if there was no pause.  As if she needed time to stitch her feelings into words in order to show me the story.   

“In fact, when I wore it, Ruth admired it.  She didn’t know I had really bought it for her.  So, when I found out she was sick, I packaged up the necklace and took it to her.”

“You DID?”, I asked, surprised.

“Yes, I did.  I took it to her and gave it to her as a gift.”, Nana’s gaze trailed off and I could tell she was not so much telling ME the story anymore, but remembering it for herself.  She spoke out loud, taking me back to the day that she went to tell Ruth about the necklace.   

Our Sweet Nana.

“I sat down next to her bed and I said, ‘Ruth, this is a necklace that I bought for you during my trip to Rome.  I feel awful because I never gave it to you, I decided to keep it for myself.”, Nana spoke the words aloud gazing across the room, now speaking to Ruth and not me. 

“But everytime I wore it, I always felt like I was wearing your necklace.  Now that you are sick, I felt like I needed to tell you this and give it to you.  It is yours afterall.  And it’s been bothering me all of these years.”

Nana said that Ruth spoke gently, and said “Oh, Mary, you bought that necklace for me?  I’ve always admired it when you wore it.  But you don’t have to give it to me.  Where will I wear it to now?”, she giggled softly.  “You should keep it.”

Nana insisted, “No, I bought this for you, and it’s yours!”,  she said with a bit of a smile and a slight chuckle.

Ruth put it on that night, and Nana said she wore it frequently and they would laugh about it during Nana’s visits to see her.

On April 9, 2011, Ruth passed away. It was a very sad day for Nana, indeed.  Ruth had no children, so her favorite niece, Sarah was left with her estate.  She was left Ruth’s small house on waterfront property at Panama City Beach, along with the will and the responsibility of distrubiting certain items that Ruth left to those she loved.

Sarah visited Nana one day to chat and to give her the items that Ruth wanted her to have.  Sarah pulled a bag out of her purse, and in it was a beautiful jeweled elephant pin.  Nana collected elephants and Ruth knew Nana would love the pin.  

Sarah had a puzzed look on her face as she looked at Nana.  “Aunt Ruth also told me to give you this.” 

She opened her hand to reveal a beautifully polished hand-blown glass crystal and onyx necklace.  The beads sat in Nana’s open palms, glistening with the reflection of the Tiffany lamp near Nana’s chair.

Sarah spoke, unsure of her words, “Aunt Ruth said to tell you that she’s giving you your necklace back.  She said you’d know what she meant.”

The Beautiful Necklace from Rome.

Her words took Nana’s breath away. 

It was a culmination of the moment, the rememberance, the redemption, the loss. 

It was no longer about a necklace. 

Just as this story is not just about a necklace.

It’s about loving and forgiving and caring for one another.  It’s about the inevitable ups and downs of relationships and the realities of our humanness.  We are going to mess up, we are going to hurt each other’s feelings, we are going to sometimes do the wrong thing.  

The important thing is that, like Nana, we learn to be humble. 

We learn to tell each other of our shortcomings, make them right, and ask for forgiveness. 

 And most important, we learn to love.  To love, love, love.

And then love some more.

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” -Ephesians 4:2

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4 Responses to The Necklace of Redemption.

  1. What a sweet story Jessica. I’ll be sure Nana reads it!

  2. JC says:

    Hey babe, You’re a great writer and I’m so proud and glad you’re doing this. I look forward to reading more!

  3. Susan Shipe says:

    This caught my eye because Ruth looks so much like an elderly lady in our neighborhood who was a precious and dear friend to me when we Floridians moved the mountains of NC. Her name was Hettie and she was one of the most cherished of my friends in our new town. She taught me when to and not to can certain vegetables – she taught me things about the garden and about faith. Her favorite Scripture was Psalm 91 and in her latter years we sat in her “parlor” with the big family bible open to that Psalm, on the coffee table. Hettie was in late stages of dementia – she really didn’t even remember who my husband and I were but there we sat. I asked her, “Hettie, is Psalm 91 still your favorite scripture?” To which she replied, “Yes.” I asked her if she could quote it. In her beautiful, sweet, clear Appalachian voice, and in perfect King James prose, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty….I will say of the Lord…..” She quoted that entire Psalm as my husband and I sat there astounded, amazed, and incredibly blessed.” Hettie went to be with the The Most High two years ago next month. She left this world not knowing any of her family members – but this I know without doubt – when her eyes opened within the gates, she was forever “under the shadow of the Almighty.”
    Thank you for writing this – the memory is so unbelievably special for me.

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