Archive for July 30th, 2019

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Earlier this summer I traveled back and forth three times to help clean out my parents’ lakeside home in Mississippi. I wrote about the sadness over leaving the home that has been a summer sanctuary for me in a slice a few weeks ago.

What I haven’t written about are the treasures we found. My parents had no recollection that my godmother’s estate had come to them. It was all buried in a brown envelope in a desk drawer in their bedroom. I had resolved to look at everything in the house and decide if it was to keep, to trash, or to sell. When I opened the envelope with the simple label “Hollingsworth,” I didn’t know what I would find.

It’s been years since my godmother died. I barely remember a visit to her when I was a teenager. I was afraid of her because of her age and her suffering. I never knew her as a healthy person, but I dearly loved her son. Bill was my father’s best friend and lived as a monk in Covington, Louisiana. He was small in stature but big in personality. He died in December, 2015. I miss visits with him.

My parents gave me a sculpture my godmother Jane had made and some sketches of her that her husband, William Hollingsworth, had drawn. But I knew nothing of the jewelry she left behind.

The most charming item of jewelry was a pearl ring. And it fit me perfectly. Pearls are one of my signature jewels because the name Margaret means “pearl.” Seems meant to be.

Another treasure I brought home with me was the portrait of my maternal grandmother. Again someone I didn’t know. She was Margaret Shields Liles, and she died three months before I was born. As I was named for her, the portrait passed to me. It was painted in 1943 when my mother was 7 years old. My mother remembers traveling to Memphis to have it done. I grew up with this image hanging first in my grandfather’s house, then in ours. The angel in a white dress cradling her violin became my guardian angel. Now, she hangs beautifully in my dining room.

Portrait of Margaret Shields Liles, 1943.

There is a feeling of loss with these treasures. The wonderful women I never knew feel like a part of me in some small way. The passing of a legacy, a history. Treasures lost; treasures found.

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