There are things handed down from parent to child that hold within them the very bones of inheritance. They need not be ancient or of great monetary value. Their giving need not be of great ceremony. The importance comes from their provenance; the intertwined narrative of object, giver and receiver.
In 1956, 4 years after my parents started courting, my father was conscripted into the Portuguese army. These were the days of the dictator Salazar, and all young men were required to serve. Before he left, he gifted my mother a pair of gold earrings. They were, in fact, the first pair of earrings my mother ever owned. They were worth a king's ransom, more than a year's wage, but it was no matter to him.
My mother wore the earrings for years; through 4 more years of courtship, decades of marriage, the birth of 3 children, and the subsequent death of my father.
Yesterday, my mother gifted them to me. It was a bitter sweet experience both for her and me. You see, the earrings should have gone to my sister. She would have been the rightful inheritor, being the eldest child. Life, however, follows its own road, and we lost my sister 8 years ago to breast cancer. Being the only daughter left, they have come to me.
This provenance, this hand-me-down journey of lineage has come at a great price: the death of a husband and of a child. Yet, despite it's heartache, it has redoubled the value of the objects in a way that only love can. I am humbled and honoured to receive this gift.