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Robbyn's Gift by Janice Marois


I wrote this back in 2003. It was published in Heroic Stories, albeit with editing.
Like me, you might wish to join http://heroicstories.com for inspiring articles.

Let me begin by saying that just better than one year ago I began to live every parent's nightmare -- the loss of a child. It has been a year of heartbreak and then, suddenly, a stranger made a difference.

My son was just 21 years old when his heart stopped beating. It was one of those terrible things that you read about happening to "other people", to athletes, or people who take those dietary supplements with ephedrine. It's not something you'd even consider when taking an over-the-counter decongestant.

In any event, as I began down this road as the parent of a child who will never grow old, it became important (to me) that I find a locket of some sort to hold a lock of his hair along with a photograph. Thus began my sporadic searches on eBay.

There is a category for mourning jewelry on eBay and I began to periodically search it. The section is difficult to look at frequently as so many of the items are heartbreaking -- filled with pictures of young children, and locks of hair from so very long ago. I knew I would be unable to remove someone else's picture, so this put a further crimp in my searching.

Shortly after the close of one auction back in February though I found the PERFECT locket. It had on the front a carving that so reminded me of Sir Francis Drake (who circumnavigated in 1580) that my own heart skipped a beat. You see, that final week, Son had spoken of buying a catamaran (a twin-hulled sailboat) and making the same around the world trip.

That, plus the fact that Son was born in 1980, seemed to cinch the desire for me. Many years ago he had been given a commemorative coin from Plymouth, England celebrating the Drake odyssey, and Son carried that coin until he lost it in the ocean. An appropriate place, many would say...

Anyway, the Victorian Gold Agate Mourning Locket auction had ended, and the lucky winner was Robbyn (that's not her userid). I wrote her shortly thereafter, expressing an interest (should she decide to part with the locket) in purchasing it. She responded, saying she'd let me know. I was a stranger to her, so the fact that she responded at all was heartening.

Well, time has a way of marching forward, and the months ticked by. I continued to search eBay and elsewhere for something appropriate that wasn't too feminine -- it had to be for a guy, you know? Something my guy would have liked...

Time and again I would return to the picture and description I'd saved to my computer of The Locket. Nothing compared favorably, and I worried to of ever having something besides a small Ziploc baggie for Son's hair. One day I remembered a story from Reader's Digest that stressed the importance of ASKING. There was hope.

So, I wrote to the winner once again, and expressed renewed interest. Something in my note must have set her instincts on alert because she asked about Son. When I told her the story she asked for my address. Three days later, the locket arrived and it was even more perfect in person than the pictures showed.

The final act of generosity was her insistence that this be a gift from one mom to another. To say I've been touched by Robbyn's gift would be an understatement. I wear this locket always, and cannot begin to say the relief, joy and comfort I get by holding the locket, looking at his beautiful hair, and remembering the good times we shared during his all-too-brief life.

Thank you Robbyn.

Though I don't say so above, when I received this item it was so perfect as to make me cry. Along each side is what looks like a boat propeller moving though the water. In addition, under the loop part at the top the design looks like anchor chain. I received this item on Saturday. Monday it was repaired (reinforced loop at the top) and is now good-as-new. Better, if truth be told, because it will be treasured for a very long time. It has become a family legacy... a gift to remind ourselves that my Gene made a difference, and that strangers can brighten even the most awful of circumstances.

Take a look for yourself:

Gene's Locket... a precious gift from Robbyn

A few brief emails, and then, this gift... I still cannot believe my good fortune. But this isn't merely a gift to be reciprocated -- it's an obligation to make a difference in someone else's life.

P.S. circa 2015: If anyone knows of Robbyn (she was a California gal) I'd love to be able to pen her another thank you note. She deeply touched my life and has been in my prayers ever since. I don't know that she realizes what a difference her generosity made to me in my time of despair. Touching base would be wonderful. She is a gem.

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