When it was clear that my grandmother was dying, she told me I could have anything of hers that I wanted.
She lay on the chaise lounge in her bedroom and gestured broadly to emphasize the anything.
She had spent a lot of her life collecting Chinese antiques and beautiful jewelry – sapphire necklaces, platinum watches, an amethyst and diamond ring as big as my knuckle. I was pretty sure there was a fur or two in her house as well. It was a modest rowhouse — but in its cupboards, you could find beautiful crystal, china, and engraved silver from Kirk & Son.
I chose a rhinestone brooch. Rectangular, maybe from the ’40s or the ’50s, its glittering jewels curled into a scripted monogram of her initials – HMG. Helen Myra Gregg.
It was probably worth 50 bucks. But it had her initials, so I wanted it. I pinned it to my wool coat and wore it until the snow melted and it was time to put away my winter clothes.
I blamed my inability to choose anything else on the fact that I had flown in from Montana, and all I had brought was a carry on. But inadequate luggage had hardly stopped me during back east shopping sprees. I had solid friends at the UPS Store.
I just wasn’t ready to divvy up the goods. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye or to let her go. I wanted to carry my grandmother with me wherever I went. So I did. My heart wasn’t on my sleeve, it glittered on my lapel.
I tend to wear mine. Some people have lucky numbers or lucky rituals. Others have lucky key chains or lucky mugs. A dashboard Jesus or an auto dream catcher. While it’s true that I have a prayer card in my wallet with the Virgin of Guadalupe, I much prefer the luck that I can wear.
I have a bracelet with my children’s names on it, which I wear whenever they are facing a big challenge or I just want to keep them close in my heart – when they travel or when they have a big game or tryout.
I have a silver bracelet that says “Baltimore” which I wear when the Ravens play or when I go to an Orioles game. I like it so much that I gave one to my sister for her birthday.
(I am a word person, so it probably isn’t surprising that my favorite lucky charms have letters or names on them.)
And I still have the pin from my grandmother. I still have it even though she died eight years ago and I now live in her house. Even though I have inherited a few pieces of that silver and crystal. Plus the hideous black lacquered Chinese cupboard that really doesn’t match the rest of my dining room furniture.
I still have it and I still wear on it on the days when I want that extra little bit of luck or grace. Or kindness from the universe.
It remains my favorite lucky charm.