When I was in North Carolina I found a box on Mama’s kitchen table in among some mail. It had a bracelet inside. Upon the bracelet was engraved the initials “WRL”. I thought about who that might be. Mama was always buying little things for people. But I couldn’t think of anyone with those initials. I thought briefly that she might have meant it for me, but my initials are “KRWL”. Honestly, given everything else I was dealing with at the time, I didn’t give it much thought. And when I packed up her apartment, that bracelet was put into a box along with a lot of other things. I think I mentioned the bracelet to Victoria, but I really didn’t think about it after that.
When I returned for Florida and started going through Mama’s belongings, I came across that bracelet again. I took it out to look it over, and brought it into my studio thinking I’d write and ask if anyone in the family knew who “WRL” might be. Then I noticed something I’d missed before. On the back of the bracelet was an inscription that I hadn’t seen. It read, simply;
“My Son, My Pride, My Joy”
I wept when I realized that this bracelet was for me. One last, precious gift from Mama. She’d told me before Christmas that one of my gifts hadn’t come in, and I had forgotten about it. To say this bracelet means a lot to me is an understatement. As I’m writing this, tears are streaming down my face. Every time I read the inscription on the back, tears stream down my face.
I know this bracelet was not meant as a final gift or a final message. But if there was ever anything I needed to hear from my mother after she had passed, it was that simple phrase. “My Son, My Pride, My Joy.”
I will treasure this bracelet. Always. Not just because of the sentiment behind it. That need not be said. I knew how much Mama loved me, and how proud she was of me. The initials are endearing, because whether she meant it that way or not Mama was telling me that she loved me as Kevin, but she accepted me as Wicasta. My name is Kevin Robert Wicasta Lovelace. But Mama, with this final gift, put the name Wicasta first. Maybe in some small way she finally embraced my need to become someone other than the Kevin I was as a child. I don’t know. I may never know. But it’s just like Mama to put such a simple, touching kindness into a gift.
Whatever questions might remain about the arrangement of my initials, it’s the inscription on that back that makes this bracelet a treasure to me. It’s one last, unexpected message from my dear Mama that I will keep close to my heart for the rest of my life.
Thank you so much, Mama, for loving me. I was never the son you deserved, but that’s because no one could have been. You were the best mother in the world. And your sweet, kind spirit proved to be a soul that few of us could ever hope to measure up to. You were the best of us, and set an example we might all aspire to. I am, and always will be, proud to be your son. I just wish I’d had the time to return your loving gesture with a bracelet of my own that read, “My Mother, My Pride, My Joy”.
I love you, Mama. I’ll see you again soon enough.