My Jewels are inMy Children’s Eyes

Mama dressed and worked like a peasant woman.  She always wore a kerchief to cover her hair and skirts made from multi-flowered, Purina feedbags.

Her hands were calloused and red.  The cracks in the skin from the cold often opened and bled, but she carried herself as if she were royalty.  That was why Paul called her HRABINA (Countess). 

While Mama always wore her gold wedding band, her engagement ring was kept for very special affairs.  Then it would be brought out and Mama wore it like a real Hrabina.

Many years later, she gave her precious ring to one of her granddaughters who did not like the old-fashioned setting and had the three diamonds reset.

It was only then that we learned that the half-carat stones were cloudy, dull yellow, with an industrial cut and quite worthless.  Somehow on Mama’s finger these stones shone with the brilliance of sunlight.

I do not know what happened with those diamonds, but they were not part of any of our rings thereafter and I don’t believe Mama was ever told about them.

Mama had one store-bought dress for “The Holidays” and other special occasions.  When Mama took off her kerchief and Purina bag skirt and put on lipstick, her store-bought dress, and her engagement ring, she looked and felt like a real Countess.

After leaving the farm, Mama became Americanized.  She had a beautiful wardrobe and real jewelry, but she never was as regal as she was as a poor peasant woman on our Jersey chicken farm. 

I believe while she hated the farm and the work her boys had to do, it gave her that true name of The Countess.

My daughter still remembers Mama singing her a Yiddish song.   The lyric she remembers most was “my jewels are in my children’s eyes.”