My most prized possession probably holds the financial value of a single American dollar but it has become one of the most valuable assets I have in my life.
There are families who pass down wealth, money, homes and jewelry. My family is not one of those families.
When my grandfather died on July 21, 1993, family members went thru his belongings and found there was an envelope with my name on it. You see, my grandfather lived in Belfast Northern Ireland while I lived in the US. I had just visited him in March of that year. I was celebrating my 21st birthday with a trip to Ireland. There was nothing so different about that last visit, he was the same as he always was. A real character. He was fond of a few drinks and a wee John Powers. He would have those few drinks and he would whip out the harmonica and start a sing-a-long of every Irish tune you could think of. He was pure entertainment for a visitor. I always remember when he was in that moment of sheer enjoyment and everyone was laughing and singing along, he would stop and say, “ What do you think the President of the United States is doing right now?” He often would insert other famous people or government officials to make his case. “Well,” he said, “ I’ll tell you right now, he’s not having as much fun as us and he only wishes he could be with us right now.”
As many of you know I was born in Belfast, I actually lived in my grandfather’s house before coming to America. When we immigrated to America, my grandfather was heartbroken. We went back to visit often when I was younger and I began to form a very special bond with him. Back then phone calls were expensive, so I decided to begin writing my grandfather letters. We wrote back and forth for years. I realized a lot through the letters. He had excellent penmanship and I was winning penmanship awards at Catholic School for my cursive right. I taught my self calligraphy by copying his writing. I learned that time nor distance could keep you from your loved one, you just had to put some effort into it. I have no idea where the letters are today and when he passed, I was desperate to have something that belonged to him to keep as a memory. And here I come to find out, that there is an envelope with my name on it.
As the envelope made it’s way to the US, I opened it to find an Easter Card that was written out for me and a small pair of white rosaries. I was thrilled. They rosaries were new and purchased for me. I think that he may have intended to give them to me during my last visit and he forgot to. I knew that they were from him and I took it as a sign. He wanted me to have them and he wanted me to pray. I had something that would remind me of him. I felt like I had won the lottery.
The rosaries became a part of my life. In sad times or times of need, I found myself sleeping with them under my pillow. I often carried them in my bag to an important meeting, interview or work event. On my wedding day, I had a pocket sewed into my dresses so that I could carry them with me as I said my vows. They were my most prized possession after all and it was my way of ensuring my grandfather was there with me on this important day. I have four sisters, I asked every one of my sisters to carry them on their wedding day. Over a 10 year period, these rosaries were with every sister at some point. I began a tradition of giving each sister a set of rosaries to keep when they returned my rosary from my grandfather. I had those rosaries with me when I packed my bag for the hospital to give birth to both of my children. So many moments and each time, the rosaries were a quiet part of the moments.
It had been a while since I had seen the rosaries. It has been over 24 years since my grandfather passed and oddly the other day, I opened an old work bag and there they were. I was inspired and touched as if I had seen them for the first time again. I thought it was his gentle way to remind me, he’s still there watching from a distance. Just like the letters I use to get as a child, he was mailing me a letter from heaven. So, this is my letter back, Granda.
I wanted to share with all of you the story of my most prized possession. For some people, their most prized possession might be locked away in a safe. It could be diamonds, gold, money or property but to me my most valuable possession is something I bet I could not get more than $1 for at a flea market.
We are the people Granda, We are the people.
Love Always your Granddaughter, Andrea xo
“She is handsome, She is pretty She will always be the girl from Belfast City”.