In the days immediately following my grandmother's death, the only thing that brought me any bit of comfort was staying busy and completely immersing myself in massive organizational projects at home. Even though she didn't say anything at the time, my mom was doing the same thing, albeit in a much more sentimental, gorgeous, and meaningful way.
The day after her mom died, my own mom, who dabbles in making her own jewelry, melted down older pieces of my grandmother's gold and formed them into matching bracelets for herself and the three granddaughters. On the outside, the words Never Forget are etched, a double meaning in the sense of my grandmother's loss and Holocaust remembrance. On the inside is the tattoo number my grandmother received at Auschwitz.
The moment my mom handed me the bracelet, I started crying as I slipped it on my wrist. It's on the opposite hand of the gold bracelet I inherited from my late Hungarian grandfather, to whom my grandmother was married nearly half a century.
An enormous part of my grandmother's identity was wrapped in the fact that she was a survivor. At her 90th birthday party, she talked about the fact that she couldn't believe how much love she was surrounded with, considering the hell she'd been through. The number tattooed on her arm came to represent not just a dehumanizing identifier, but a signifier of everything she endured to come to America and start her family. While I wouldn't personally get the tattoo in permanent ink, the bracelet feels like a respectful way to honor her and ensure she's never remembered as just a number.
There's no way I could ever forget my grandmother, but having a physical reminder I can look down at everyday reminds me that she's always there in some capacity. Wearing jewelry that has been passed down generations is something I see as one of the most meaningful traditions my family has, and I love knowing that someday it will be on Sloan and her future children.
Do you have a meaningful family tradition you love? What's the most thoughtful gift you've ever received? Share in the comments below!