My Mother's Pearls

Joan Stephens

Catherine gazed critically at her reflection in the mirror of her dressing table. Not too many wrinkles for a woman of sixty-nine years, she thought. With a sigh though, she tucked a few strands of errant gray hair behind her ear. As she did, she smiled as the image of her daughter appeared behind her in the mirror.

She was constantly amazed that this stately, beautiful, intelligent woman had come from her body. With an innate grace that reminded Catherine of her husband, Carey bent to kiss her mother’s cheek. Vincent’s daughter was as tall as her father when she wore high heels. Her shoulder length hair was the color of fresh, clear honey. Blue eyes, the color of the sea as it reflected the sky, were framed by upswept eyebrows that matched the hue of her hair, giving her an exotic look. The square jaw and full lips marked her as Catherine’s daughter as well.

Today was Carey’s wedding day and the white panne velvet empire gown accented the athletic slimness of her body as well as her height. For jewelry she wore only the diamond and pearl earrings that her fiancé, David Burch, had given her as an engagement present.

Catherine’s hand rested on a scallop shaped, purple velvet box that was lying on the right side of the table. Tenderly she opened it and removed a double strand of ivory hued pearls. "These were my mother’s pearls: a gift from my dad. She gave them to me the day before she died; she wanted me to wear them on my wedding day, and I did, the day I married your father."

"Oh mother, they’re beautiful." Carey reached to stroke them softly.

Rising to her feet, Catherine said, "I want you to wear them today in honor of the most courageous and loving woman I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing: your grandmother . . . Caroline."

Bending down so Catherine could fasten the necklace around her neck, Carey said, "I will be honored to wear them, Mother, but I will also wear them in honor of the most loving and courageous woman that I know: you."

At a loss for words, Catherine hugged her daughter, her heart bursting with love for this beloved daughter of her heart, and she attempted to lighten the atmosphere in the chamber. "I know David will make you happy, but just remember, he is Elliot Burch’s son."

Carey laughed merrily, "Oh, don’t worry, Mom. With my bond with him, he can’t get away with anything." She grinned wickedly.

Catherine laughed with her. Annabelle, Carey’s best friend, stuck her head around the corner of the entrance. "They’re just about ready, Catherine. Jacob is waiting to escort you to your seat."

"Thanks, Annabelle, I’ll be right there." The red-haired young woman’s head quickly disappeared. Reaching up, Catherine pulled Carey’s cheek down to her lips. "Let me kiss my daughter one last time. The next time I have a chance to do this you’ll be the wife of David Burch." Quickly releasing her, Catherine hurried from the chamber.

Carey’s fond gaze followed the retreating form of the small, indomitable woman as she said, proudly, "I’ll always be your daughter, mother."