From the Heart

A mother’s heir­loom charm bracelet be­comes neck­laces for her daugh­ters.


Mom’s charms link sis­ters.

My mother gave me her charm bracelet years be­fore she died, but I never wore it. I’m just not a bracelet per­son. It stayed tucked in my jewelry box, cher­ished but hid­den. When a friend wrote a book called The Charm Bracelet, I was in­spired to pull out my mother’s tar­nished sil­ver heir­loom from its hid­ing spot. And I de­cided I wanted to share it with my five sis­ters.

In­stead of mail­ing the bracelet from state to state in a sort of time-share ar­range­ment (which

we’d once done with a trea­sured fam­ily quilt), I de­cided to use the charms to cre­ate neck­laces. Each of my sis­ters (sorry, big brother) got one as a gift from me as a me­mento of Mom.

Although I could have done the project my­self, I have a friend whose hobby is jewelry-mak­ing. Bet­ter to hand it off to some­one who has draw­ers full of beads and clasps and chains.

She and I talked about my sis­ters: Mar­cia, Sandy, Cathy, Mary and Terri. What are their birth­stones and styles? Sil­ver or gold? Sim­ple or em­bel­lished? We fig­ured out the ap­pro­pri­ate per­son­al­ity for each neck­lace and divvied up the charms, some with a sig­nif­i­cance that re­mains a mys­tery to me. The baby shoes prob­a­bly were a gift to my mom when Mar­cia, her first child, was born. There was a mini bowl­ing al­ley with a teensy move­able ball that could be “rolled” down the al­ley to knock over tiny pins. That would be per­fect for Mary, whose son once worked at a bowl­ing al­ley. There was an old-time wringer wash­ing ma­chine charm. A tiny wed­ding ring. An old-fash­ioned stand mixer that had mov­ing parts. A re­li­gious sym­bol. A medal for her com­ple­tion of a Dorothy Carnegie course. There were en­twined hearts en­graved with the words “you/me.”

Those charms—once hid­den away in my jewelry box—have been brought back to life for my sis­ters, who now wear them close to their hearts.

Each per­son­al­ized neck­lace shows off a charm from Jeanne Am­brose’s mother’s bracelet.

Jeanne’s fam­ily gath­ered in Hawaii on her wed­ding day. From left are brother Mike; sis­ters Mary and Mar­cia; par­ents Cather­ine and Louis; Jeanne; and sis­ters Cathy, Terri and Sandy.

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