Radio Essays

The Pearls

The Pearls

W.C. Kasten

The last week of June, 2006 was one of excruciating ups and downs. My brother Tom and I were waiting for our mother to die. Nurses said it wouldn’t be long. Meanwhile Tom, his wife and the entire family were also expecting the birth of their first grandchild – a girl.

Mom died the 22nd of June.  Local law required a wait of 5 days for cremation. So, on June 27, we got the call at 10:15 am that the cremation was complete, and to come and collect the ashes. Around 10:30, everyone got the call that Paige Elizabeth had been born.

“I wonder,” I said to myself, “if they passed each other in the light, in the space between life and death?”  Days later, my sister-in-law organized a get together in remembrance of Mom. My job was to transport our frail and deeply grieving father to the event. On one side of the room, a laptop showed pictures of Mom’s life. On the other side, another laptop showed first pictures of a birth. We sat Dad down and put his first great grandchild in his arms. It gave him a brief recess in his grief, and perhaps the last time we saw him smile.

Once the dust settled, I made an appointment with my favorite medium, Cynthia. I’d been out of town when Mom had passed. So I really hadn’t said goodbye.  I hoped to reach her through Cynthia, the same medium who had predicted a girl was coming to the family long before the parents made an announcement.

I had another question for Cynthia. Since Mom never met her great granddaughter, I bought a lovely red leather box, and put in it some things for Paige that belonged to her great grandmother. A sort of time capsule. I made Dad write something to put in the box, as he liked to write, and he needed things to do to get his mind off his grief.  I found one of Mom’s music boxes she’d collected, and put it in the box.  Mom loved Madame Alexander dolls, and I’d bought her the one named “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,” because her name was Mary. That went into the box.  I was struggling with what else to put in the box, which would be put away until Paige’s 16th birthday.

On the day of my session, according to Cynthia, Mom appeared to her immediately after an opening prayer, like she’d been expecting me. Her presence made me grab a wad of tissues. I told her about the box, and what would she’d like to have in it. Cynthia said she began talking so fast, it was hard to hear.

“She’s saying something about pearls, or a pearl, does this make sense to you?”

“Oh yes, I know exactly what she is talking about.” 

No one living knows that my mother gave me her strand of graduated pearls on my 16th birthday.  They had been a gift to her, from her oldest brother in 1934, who by then was a working adult, and who indulged his only sister, for her 16th birthday.

As soon as I got home, I took the pearls to a jeweler to be restrung and cleaned. I put them into the box.  The box is hidden in a closet in Paige’s home. On June 27, 2022, Paige will turn 16. She will get the box from her Great Grandmother, and I hope to be there.

Wendy C. Kasten

P.S. July 3, 2022

Last Monday, Paige turned 16. In order to be there, I had to board a god-awful early plane from Portland, Maine to Baltimore, rent a car, and rent a room. But last Monday on the 27th, we gathered family at a favorite family restaurant. Some of us were with Paige Saturday evening, June 25th, which her Dad, Peter decided was a better atmosphere to open the box. Paige seemed pleased. And for her birthday dinner on June 27, she wore the pearls. I gave her a photograph of her Great Grandmother Mary taken when Mary was in high school – wearing the pearls.

2 thoughts on “The Pearls”

  1. Wendy, I loved this wonderful family treasure that you have shared with us. Thanks for including first the story of your mom, the birth, the medium, and what you did. Then, the follow up made a perfect whole for us.
    Much love on this 4th of July.


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