All posts tagged: Family

Fvmbe Humor: Honoring My Ancestors with Belly Laughs

In my culture — the Mvskoke (Creek) tribe — humor is a constant. There’s even a certain genre of humor which one of our scholars, Craig Womack, termed “fvmbe humor.” (In Creek, “v” is pronounced like a “u.”) “Fvmbe” means “stink,” and “fvmbe humor” often has to do with the body, though it’s not crass. It is difficult to translate, but we’ve kept the word despite the government’s many attempts to take away our language and culture. Laughing at certain things is almost a marker of belonging. But another marker of belonging is knowing when not to laugh, when not to let suppressed giggles burst out at the wrong time. Especially, in church. My family attends a Mvskoke Baptist church. As is custom in our tribe’s churches, the church house is in the center, and it is surrounded by family “camphouses” — small houses which are usually just a dining room, kitchen, and seating area. Some have a bedroom because some people stay at church from Saturday evening to Sunday night. All of us stay …

My Husband’s Manic Break Left Me Running for My Life

Nine years ago a battalion of police cars and a whole lot of crazy portended the end of my 16-year marriage, and I — someone who’d gone from living in my mother’s house to living with my husband at just 19 years old — was now completely on my own with two young children in Westchester in a crumbling house I couldn’t afford. To say that I was scared would be like saying this first year with Trump was just a little bit rocky. I was panicked. Low-key panicked in that way that vibrates off of you, no matter how cool you’re trying to play it. And I was trying to play it cool, at least for my kids. At 8 and 11, their whole world had been upended and they were struggling to comprehend why and come to terms with it all. They needed me to act like it was all going to be okay, and while I faked the funk for them every day, I needed everyone else in my life to tell …

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On Going to a Better Place: What I’ve Learned from My Brother’s Death

Originally published in the Loss Issue, 2016 I have a picture of my younger brother when he was four days old. I’m sitting on my parents’ black and white geometric-patterned bedspread, cradling him. It’s one of my favorite photographs. I’m the oldest, followed by my sister, 13 months later. Almost a decade passed before my parents had another baby. Bryce’s birth was momentous. He was charming from the first day, with a wide, impish grin. As time went by, my mother would say, Bryce is going to do great things: He has the brains, the work ethic, the brawn. When Bryce was thirteen, he started drinking. In our family, drinking wasn’t just about experimentation. No one in my family drank. At fourteen, when the cops called to say he had broken into our neighbor’s house on the hunt for cash to buy booze and drugs, my mother called me at college, desperate and knowing there was a real problem. What had begun as acting out for Bryce had become a salve for anxiety and depression. When my …

Choosing Calm Over Chaos Made Me Less of an Asshole Mom

For a long time, I couldn’t relate to mother-daughter relationship drama stories. I was way too preoccupied with an operatic level of paternal drama for that. My father’s attentions, and the absence thereof, consumed my childhood. I was too busy being adored, smacked, screamed at, and gaslighted by my dad to have any emotional space left to hate my mom. My own daughter, Amira, was born 11 days after my 30th birthday. Four and a half years later, my son Lev was born. I did the stay-at-home-mom thing for 10 years, throughout my 30s. My job performance was fair. In the “pro” column: I think I gave my kids pretty good advice about how to stand down bullies. “If someone teases you,” I said, “squint real hard, look totally grossed out and say: ‘Ewww…! What’s that green stuff coming out of your nose?!?’” They both say it never came to that, but I know they knew what I was getting at: Don’t dignify shitty behavior. You’re bigger than that. My temper, however, was at the …

Life Blindsided Me And Then I Learned to See.

One Sunday afternoon about fifteen years ago, I wandered into a panel discussion at The Brooklyn Public Library just as Carmen Boullousa, the Mexican poet and novelist, was being asked a question. “How do you write?” the questioner asked. Carmen Boullousa threw her hands up in the air and slammed them down the table in front of her. “You don’t know what you’re doing!” she burst forth, with a shout and a laugh. “You start off blinded, and you work until you begin to see.” I was 37 or 38 at the time, with a husband and two young daughters doing whatever they were doing in our Prospect Heights brownstone a few blocks away. And for as long as I could remember, I’d been trying to connect life’s dots with a modicum of elegance and a minimum of fuss. Determined to press on, to be a trooper, to feign competence, to not give passport, ever, to a willingness to be blinded. Carmen Boullousa was talking about writing but I sensed her advice might help me …

That Last Day I Ever Trusted My Father

I trusted my father to always do the right thing because he constantly barked at my sister and me about how hard he was working for us to have a good home, go to good schools, go to college, etc. My father was the first Black man ever hired at Western Electric in their managerial program. He did a lot of good, helping other Black folks get jobs, being the President of the NAACP chapter, and integrating the Kiwanis and Lions civic organizations. In hindsight, though, there were signs I shouldn’t have trusted him as much as I did. He was of the generation of men who did not cry and were not affectionate with their family. From the time I was four years old, I knew that he and my mother didn’t have a very loving relationship. When I was five, I remember being awakened by a huge fight they had one night. They were yelling at each other, and she grabbed a giant glass ashtray and tried to smash him in his head …

The Day I Stopped Trusting My Memory

“I don’t have time for this shit,” I grumbled to myself as I searched the apartment for my keys. Moving piles of unopened mail around on the kitchen table, I felt the familiar pit in my stomach begin to grow. “Why didn’t I put the keys on its porcelain dish as usual?” I chastised myself. “And why was this happening so often lately?” Just last week, I went searching for my iPhone and found it in the freezer. In the freezer. Don’t even ask me how I did that because — guess what — I don’t remember. Back in my years before Impending Cronehood, I had a remarkable memory — almost photographic. Dates, names, and intimate details were etched into my brain so clearly that I could recall them vividly, and I was often used as my friend’s journals, to be opened when their own recollections of the past grew hazy. “Hey, Issa, what was the name of that guy I used to date our freshman year in college? You know, the one who was …

A Luminous Photograph with a Story to Tell

It’s a photograph no one else but me could have taken. My mother didn’t take it, that’s for sure. She was great in front of the camera, her rightful place, and pretended — feminine wiles, how quaint — not to understand how to depress the shutter button on a point-and-shoot. My ex-husband was a distracted photographer with an artsy eye that didn’t translate to family photos. Twenty-five years later, no, Philip, I don’t remember whose earlobe that is. But Philip didn’t take it. I’ll describe the image. My daughter, Sophia, is three. Her hair is summer blonde and flows. She is wearing a yellow dress that is now packed in a bin marked “Girls,” in the basement of my building. My father, Tom, is 67. He is tanned and grey and rugged, with a big dad head, square and block-sturdy, the kind of dad head you don’t see much anymore, who knows why, something to do with the internet? Craniums diminish to accommodate next level evolution? I don’t know. Anyway, my father with his big …

Baby Shower 2.0: Celebrating My Transgender Son’s New Identity

The blue jellybeans were assembled in pint-sized mason jars on my kitchen table. My husband was about to head to the store to pick up the balloon bouquet while I put finishing touches on the decorations. The kids and I had made a batch of homemade chocolate ice cream, and the giant, freshly baked chocolate chip cookie was frosted in blue with our son’s new name: Max Grayson. “It’s A Boy!” read the banner across the wall and on the sign in the front yard. We were thrilled to welcome so many excited guests to our home for “Baby Shower 2.0.” We had already thrown our child a baby shower back in 2008, back when we named him Mary Grace and thought he was our daughter. Our son is nine years old now and has been telling us he is a boy since he was two. Once we were able to finally recognize that he was transgender — a process that was neither fast nor easy — and then took the steps necessary to officially …

Why I Changed My Son’s Last Name to Mine

When I married David Adelson, I never seriously considered changing my name to Adelson any more than I ever seriously considered changing my name to Duchovny, or Gosling. Caveat: For a little while, maybe because I was super-stoked to be married — and super-confident that 20 years of professional feminism made my creds otherwise clear — I tacked “Adelson” on after Harris in non-professional settings. But “Lynn Harris Adelson” didn’t stick. I STILL LOVED MY HUSBAND, but after the thank-you notes were sent, it started to grate. I’d been a journalist and author forever — and though it was EXTREMELY IRRITATING to be constantly confused with the late bestselling author E. Lynn Harris, whose books best-sold way more than mine — I was not about to touch my byline. Plus, feminism! “Harris” wasn’t going anywhere. Then came our daughter, Bess. We considered “Bess Harris” for about five minutes, two and a half of which were spent thinking, “That’s a lot of S’s,” and two and a half of which were spent noting that both names …

A Pragmatist’s Guide to Adventurous Living 

When people ask how a nice Mormon girl from a small, conservative college town ended up in New York City, I tell them it was by way of the Western Sahara, a desert wedding and a white camel. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was trained for a life of adventure. Conceived in a well-traveled uterus (my parents had spent a grueling 12 months traveling the globe the year prior), I had been to 32 countries and visited every one of the United States except Alaska by the time I was 12. I celebrated my third birthday crying over a lost sweater on a Norwegian fjord. My fourth, waiting patiently in our VW camper for my father to be released from a Mexican jail. My fifth, eating couscous from the henna-ed hands of bejeweled women at a Berber wedding in Morocco and begging my parents to let me bring home a very sweet, very tiny white camel. And the year I turned 18, I furtively exchanged blue jeans for Soviet bezdelushki behind …

Oh Ottawa: Reflecting on a Canadian Life Left Behind

  If Belle from Beauty and the Beast were 40 today, would she still be living happily ever after or would she have second thoughts about leaving her provincial life? Would she still identify with that life at all? Growing up in Ottawa, Canada, I suppose in some ways I was a modern-day Belle leading the proverbial provincial life*. The grass is green, and there’s lots of it – in the summer months at any rate. With the federal government headquartered in the nation’s capital, the job market is robust and typically weathers market downturns well. There’s access to good schools and, of course, universal healthcare. At home, we indulged in many popular American imports. Our family tuned in to ALF and laughed at Steve Urkel’s silly jokes, my dad received a hero’s homecoming when he signed up for a Jumbo Video membership (Canada’s answer to Blockbuster) and surprised us with a copy of the newly-released Batman movie, and in the 10th grade I became completely obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera when a …

Taking Care of the Strongest Man I Ever Knew

  My father asked me, “How long does it take?” I felt all the sound, light, air — everything — leave the room; only the weight of those words remained. I was standing at the side of his bed, lightly stroking his forehead. Mom was exhausted, slumped in a chair in a dark corner. He was dying and wanted to know when it would be over. He had seen so much life and death on the farm — animal life and death — for 40 years, he knew when death was near and he was ready for it. But for him to ask me… that took me a minute. I was the youngest and a girl. You didn’t reveal this kind of vulnerability to your youngest daughter. Four months earlier, I’d come home for a visit and it had been clear to me: Dad was not going to make it. It was upsetting to see him so much thinner and weaker than just a month ago. It was before the dialysis. Before the hospitalization. That January afternoon, he …

When I Lost Weight, My Daughter Didn’t Recognize Me

I am watching home videos with my daughter, who is nearly 15 and prone to bouts of nostalgia. She likes to remind herself of a time when life was simpler — when she received toys instead of gift cards for her birthday, when her little brother still idolized her, when her favorite thing about the science museum was the diorama room and she could run freely through the exhibit since no one else’s favorite thing about the science museum is the diorama room. On the television screen, my children’s cheeks are still rosy and full, their smiles silly and unguarded. I love watching their skinny little legs kicking in the pool, their pudgy fingers picking up one goldfish cracker at a time. The only thing I don’t like about these old home movies is seeing myself on camera. The me I see onscreen is quite heavy – 40 pounds heavier than my current weight, to be exact. Because I am short – only 4’9” – a gain or loss of even three pounds is visible …

Their Father’s Daughters: Four Sisters Come Together to Say Goodbye

Deborah – last on the right – with her three sisters. (Photo courtesy Deb Copaken) I am the eldest of four girls, a number that felt ever-so-slightly obscene. Like, couldn’t we have stopped at three? But no, we couldn’t, because numbers 3 and 4 were identical twins. Prior to their conception, Mom had read an article about how to conceive a boy. She followed it to the letter: eat this; do that; have sex at this time of the month; stand on your head and clap three times, chant a Tibetan prayer, who knows what it said? I never read it. But I have always wondered how many other babies born in 1972 have that article to thank for either their twins or their vaginas. Each sister, in our own time, were supposed to have been named Jeffrey Scott. Instead we were Deborah Elizabeth, Jennifer Robin, Laura Suzanne, and Julie Michelle. We literally used up all the innocuous girl names. When my eldest was born, 21 years ago, my dad rushed into the hospital room to …

Honoring the Women in My Maternal Battalion

Technically, my godmother is some white lady. Those three words are literally all I know about her: some, white, lady. And it took some digging for me to even get that little bit of information from my parents. At first, I sent my mom a text message that simply asked, “Who is my godmother?” Her reply: “I can’t remember. Curtis will remember.” So, I called my dad (Curtis) and he said, “I don’t think you have one. I don’t think your mother believed in godmothers.” Then, of course, I called my mom to verify my dad’s theory. And, of course, she disagreed. “That’s not true,” she said. “You have a godmother. Your godmother is some white lady who your father knew when we lived in Baltimore.” [pullquote]Just because we grown-ups don’t need legal guardians doesn’t mean we don’t still need support from people who are more grown-up than we are and who can step in when our parents cannot be there.[/pullquote] I considered calling my father back with the new “some white lady” clue to …

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How to Have the Money Talk with Your Parents

(Photo credit: Stocksy.com) Even if you began planning for your Golden Years at an early age, there is one thing about retirement that no one ever warns you about: You might be on the hook for some (or all) of your parents’ retirement. How, you may ask? Well, there is a high probability your parentals will outlive their savings. The median household approaching retirement has a nest egg of just $10,000 to $20,000, according to the Government Accountability Office. Among folks who have saved for retirement, the median amount of their savings is about $104,000 for households age 55 to 64 and $148,000 for households age 65 to 74. That’s equivalent to a payout of $310 and $649 per month, respectively. That’s not even accounting for inflation. And you shouldn’t count on Social Security to give Mom and Dad much of a safety net. Social Security coverage is minimal at best – this year, the average monthly benefit is $1,341, which equates to $16,092 for the year. That’s barely enough to stay out of poverty. …

This Is What the American Dream Actually Looks Like

Nancy’s father-in-law Boen Tong (Photo courtesy Nancy Davis Kho) My late father-in-law was an immigrant. He was also one of the most American guys I ever met — if you believe that what defines our national character is a willingness to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, a love of family and community, a thirst for knowledge and, of course, a really green lawn. Boen Tong — known as “Tong” or “BT” to his wife and friends, “Dad” and “Grandpa” to his kids and grandkids and “Tom” to the slightly deaf old Jewish ladies with whom he played bridge in his later years — was born in Indonesia in 1919. He spent his childhood working in the family batik business, pedaling his bike through the Javanese jungle to pick up the beautifully dyed cloth for which Indonesia is known. He spoke Malay and Javanese, but when his parents sent him to study at Dutch schools, Dutch became the first of four foreign languages in which he would eventually become fluent. By age 19, BT showed …

I Invited a Refugee Family Home to Dinner, and It Changed My Life

Sloane around the dinner table with her family and a Syrian refugee family at Thanksgiving (Photo courtesy Sloane Davidson) Over the course of the past election cycle, I was taken aback at the backlash against refugees. I also realized I didn’t personally know any refugees. I decided that if this was an important issue I was going to care about, I needed to better understand and know the refugee community. My family, if polled, would likely say I have never met a cause I didn’t support. I fell into working at a nonprofit in my early 20’s. I was unsettled and without a career path when a mentor suggested I would make a good fundraiser and offered me a job. I took her advice and flourished. I spent most of my career in a variety of nonprofit roles but took a sharp turn this past fall when I decided that I wanted to work directly with refugees. I started with a fairly basic understanding of refugees being people who were forced to flee their homes …

Sister, Sister: I’m a Black Woman with a White Sister

Penny, right, with her sister, Amy. (Photo courtesy of Penny Wrenn) When people ask if I have brothers and sisters, I don’t know where to begin. Do I say, I’m an only child, the youngest of seven or the seventh of nine? In fact, all these answers are true. I’m my mother’s only child and the youngest of my father’s seven biological children. But if we’re talking the order in which my father’s children entered his life, then I’m not the last. When my parents divorced, my father remarried and I inherited two step-siblings. Still, however I go about answering the “Do you have brothers and sisters?” question, I always get to this part: I am a black woman with a white sister. Her name is Amy. People would come to my old Harlem apartment see her photo on my bookshelf, the one where I’m standing next to her on her wedding day, and they’d ask, “Who’s that?” But I would never just say, “My sister.” I knew that I must follow up with an …

I’m 50 and I Can’t Remember Jack Shit

When I was a kid, super memory was my superpower. I was the youngest in my nuclear family, the second-to-youngest in my extended family, and I was regarded as a rememberer-in-chief by all my relatives. Trip to the grocery store? “Nancy, we need apples, tomatoes and cereal,” Mom would say, and I’d reel off the list to her until it was all in the cart. “Nancy, what was the restaurant where we ate in the Adirondacks?” Aunt Margaret would ask, and I’d answer, “Keyes Pancake House” before the question was out of her mouth. People marveled. “You never forget anything.” It was easy, this remembering of things. What was the big deal? I’d think to myself, with all the self-awareness a nine-year-old girl could muster. Later, when I was teenager and perfecting random cruelty directed at my mother, I’d openly mock her for her inability to remember things. “Did I see that movie? Did I like it?” I’d taunt her, after she’d ask me just those questions about some film I’d mentioned. How could someone …

What is the Lifespan of a Memory?

Memory is a funny thing. Why do we remember the things we do, and how is it that people remember the same event differently? How does one person remember and another forget? I’ve always been fascinated by this, and so when my kids were very young I began an informal experiment by asking them at different stages about their memories: “What’s your best memory? What’s your worst memory? What’s your first memory?” Even with their young brains, there are some things that they have already begun to forget. Which leads me to one of my biggest fears: that I will begin to forget too — their stories, my stories and my family’s stories. And if I forget bigger events, what will happen to those little moments? How my mother laughed and my father smiled? And what my daughter’s first hug felt like? This melancholy musing has led me to ask: What’s the lifespan of a memory? Family stories seem to be the easiest thing to keep alive. I keep dredging them up and telling them to my kids …

I’m Not Religious, But I Believe in Pat

Had I posted a classified ad when I was searching for a nanny for my kids, the copy might’ve read something like this: Wanted: Delightful woman to impart kindness, manners and respect to my children. Infectious giggle a real plus. And wouldn’t you know it? That very person knocked on my door, arriving a few months before my second son was born. She stayed for 20 years. Pat’s few shortcomings as a nanny (she could be a dangerous laundress and a mystifying cook) were far outweighed by her loveliness. I remember calling my house from my office to hear her answer the phone with her charming Guyanese lilt and perfect enunciation: “Hello, good afternoon, may I help you?” she’d trill. It was all I could do not to hang up and call back just to hear her say it again. Pat had endless patience for rambunctious boys and a true appreciation for games. She actually enjoyed playing Chutes and Ladders, while I only pretended to do so. She declared my children both geniuses and gifted …

Up in Smoke: A Renovation Nightmare

After a couple of years careening back and forth between considerations about where to live, how to live and what we want to do with the next 50 years of our lives, my husband, Dave, and I finally committed ourselves to a big renovation project. It included an expanded living space, hardwood floors, new doors and windows, a new kitchen, new heating and cooling…the whole nauseating enchilada. Exactly four months ago, we broke ground, planning to be back in our home in time to host Thanksgiving in our newly-expanded dining room. But that was before the fire. Allow me to back up a bit. The decision to renovate was not an easy one. When we bought this house several years ago, the home inspector looked at its crawl space full of decaying joists, its attic full of black mold and the varmint hole as wide as a dachshund dug under the kitchen floorboards and shook his head and said, “Well, I can see why the price is so low. But listen. Do not invest any …

Making Room for an Older, Adopted Son

Aliza’s biological daughter and adopted son playing together in the fields (Photo courtesy Aliza Sherman) When you renovate a home, you tear down walls, gut rooms, rip out old pipes and wires. You empty out to rebuild and refill it. When you renovate a family, you push, stretch, pull and shift, too. You push past fears of it “not being the right time” or of you “not having enough money.” You stretch your thinking about the structure of your family and where everyone will fit in with a new addition. You stretch the shape of your heart to fit a new child into it, one that didn’t come from inside of you but is placed with you. You shift the space within your mind, your heart and your home to make room. “I want a baby brother,” my 9-year-old daughter told me for the umpteenth time. My “bio” daughter, or “biological daughter,” as she would soon be known, was eager for a sibling and no amount of “Mommy can’t have any more babies” satisfied her …

The Season of Giving In

I’m just going to come out and say it: I am not doing well. I am spent. I am drained. And now we are entering the season of giving? Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I am tapped out. I’m a mom of two boys, two and four years old. They are brilliant little crazed monkey lunatics. My heart is on my sleeve and in my throat every minute of the day. It’s exhausting. Strangers see my tight face in the grocery store as my boys have a screaming match in aisle 9 and offer me, “These are the days! You don’t want to miss them!” Seriously? Cause I gotta tell ya, if I ever have a moment to myself, I am daydreaming about dropping them both off at a highly-rated Charter school with after-hour yoga care while I, I don’t know, take a hike or finish reading a paragraph in a magazine or simply do the dishes without someone clinging to my leg or wiping their nose on my jeans. I’m also gut-wrenchingly …

We Toast 2016: Some Good Things Actually Happened

(Graphic: Adrianna Dufay/TueNight) Man, it has been a shitty year. From the music world alone, we lost Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and Sharon Jones. We lost our chance at electing the first woman president of the United States. And, everyday, we get to watch our buffoon of a President Elect attempt to distract us from his disastrous cabinet appointments with the Twitter stream of a toddler. Good times! Still, throughout this terrible year, many wonderful things did bring us joy. We asked several TueNight contributors to write in with their toasts to some of their favorite moments of the year. Mallory Kasdan 2016 has been marred by loss and violence constant enough to numb. So I’ve found it helpful to cling to art, and especially to music, as a salve. Released days after a disastrous and surreal presidential election, A Tribe Called Quest’s final album WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE THANK U 4 YOUR SERVICE is potent and prescient, calling out for justice and healing in these raw times. Phife Dawg, who died suddenly …

Even When Dad Was Dying, We Kept Laughing

(Photo: Stocksy) I am one of the lucky ones whose parents, through a combination of good genes and good living and good luck, were still around when I was in my 40s. When I thought about losing either one of them, which I did rarely and fleetingly, I pictured myself sobbing next to a hospital bed, drained faces, the gaping abyss that would come with the loss of someone who had loved me unconditionally from my first breath. Then my dad got sick in June this year and died in July. And I realized I’d left out an important facet of the process of losing them: laughter. Admittedly, mine is a family where a quick wit was prized and prodded to higher purpose. A sense of humor was as important growing up in my home as was the ability to work hard, tell the truth and clean the rabbit cage without being nagged to do it. I don’t believe we were special that way; the proprietary humor that can thrive between family members is part …

Grief and Gratitude: Knowing Nannie Was Worth the Pain of Losing Her

Heather in the kitchen (of course!) with her Nannie. (Photo courtesy Heather Graham) In early 2007, we sat around my Aunt Mary’s dining room table talking about ways we could celebrate my grandmother’s birthday. Nannie was turning 80, and though she referred to her contemporaries around town as “the old folks,” she in no way considered herself one of them. She’d still have been driving (like a bat outta hell) if her last hip surgery for a degenerative condition hadn’t significantly weakened her pedal-pushing leg. Las Vegas came up. We sipped coffee—my aunt, my mom, my cousin Erica, Nannie and I—as we imagined a glitzy adventure littered with Elvis impersonators, convertible Caddies, big winnings, free booze and overflowing buffets. We envisioned ourselves road-tripping cross-country to party in Vegas. The things we’d do, the people we’d meet. It was even suggested that Wilhelmina might come out of retirement—Wilhelmina being my grandmother’s vagina. Come November, just 45 days before anyone could assess the fire hazard of shoving 80 candles on a cake, my grandmother left this life. …

Rings to Remember: The Art of Mourning Jewelry

A collection of mourning with distinct features; broken tree, urn, and pearls. (Photo courtesy @luckandlockets) When I was 10 years old, my parents gave me a copy of Gone With the Wind as a birthday present. While I didn’t understand it all, one of the many things that stuck out in my mind from the book was the concept of mourning. I learned that in Scarlett O’Hara’s world, society had strict rules to follow about behavior and attire after the loss of a family member. In just a few chapters, Scarlett goes from 16-year-old flirt to widow, and, as society dictated, being a widow she wore a long veil and black, eschewing social activities in observance of her loss. While these strict customs have mostly faded, one physical relic that remains from that time is the jewelry. Called mourning jewelry — also referred to as memento mori jewelry — these pieces commemorate the death of a loved one and serve to remind us that death will come for us too. As an antique jewelry enthusiast, …