See the diamond earrings? They’re not real. They’re fake. But you probably wouldn’t know by looking at them. I know because my husband told me after he took them to a jewelry store to get appraised.
“You’re not going to like this,” he said, walking up the stairs to where I was sitting in my office, “but the earrings your dad gave you are cubic zirconia, they’re not diamonds.”
I argued with him for a while. “That can’t be possible,” I said. “That can’t be.” I remembered by dad getting up from his beloved black leather La-Z-Boy chair with the worn wooden arms, his pipe rack and the Captain Black tobacco canister on the side table next to a stack of mysteries. He read nonstop in the eighteen months he lived after my mother died, sometimes checking out books from his smalltown library that he had already read a year before. It was his first Christmas as a widower.
He disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a little box. “Here,” he said, “I meant to give these to your mother, but it didn’t make sense to give ’em to her, you know?” I assumed that he meant that it didn’t make sense to give diamond earrings to a woman who, in her Alzheimer’s identity-robbing fog, had traded her Aqua-netted perfectly coiffed hair for a stiff baseball cap. This was the last frontier for me – seeing her with her hair sticking out the sides of the cap. The not talking and forgetting how to use the stove seemed like little quirks. Giving up make-up and not caring about her hair – that was the death knell.
I was surprised and happy when my father gave me the earrings. Surprised because he was never one to give significant gifts and I couldn’t imagine him having bought diamond studs. Because I had just reconciled with my folks after many years estranged, the gift was all the nicer. I drove back to Wisconsin from my father’s house in Michigan feeling totally back in the fold. He had given me the diamond earrings intended for my mother. I felt precious.
So I was upset with my husband for telling me they were fake. “You shouldn’t have told me,” I said to him. “You should have just kept it to yourself. I didn’t need to know they were fake. It was better to believe they were real.”
“Isn’t it better to know?” He said this many times and seemed convinced of it. “Wouldn’t you rather know the truth? Besides who cares? What difference does it make?”
Of course, he was right. He was the kind of person who would tell the truth and I was the kind of person to expect it.
Indeed. What difference did it make if they were diamonds or cubic zirconia? It’s the thought that counts, right? They were still a gift from my father and he’d thought they were good enough to give to my mother. Although he didn’t give them to her. He gave them to me. It was petty but that they weren’t real diamonds bothered me for a long while and I put them aside. Maybe it was thinking they were one thing and having them be something else.
Then lately, I’ve been wearing them. The earrings my dad gave me. I wear them when I have to do something physical or when I have to bundle up against bad weather. They’re sturdy and stay put, don’t get caught on anything, and can’t get lost. A lot like him, actually.