Vote for Jennifer McCarthy’s ‘All That Glitters’ essay honoring her Aunt Susie’s sparkle of spirit
November 15, 2010
TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; Jennifer McCarthy, a west shore resident for more than 10 years, has been selected as a top 10 finalist in a nationwide essay contest. The contest, sponsored by Jewelry Information Center (JIC), the consumer education arm of Jewelers of America (JA), recognizes the and#8220;Gems Among Usand#8221; who make our world a better place.
The top 10 finalists were selected from a group of nearly 700 essays entered from all over the country. The finalists consist of family members, friends, teachers and neighbors and#8212; people who have battled illness, inspired those around them through their selfless actions, and/or have given of themselves fully without restraint: True gems.
The grand-prize winner is determined entirely by public vote. Votes may be placed online through Nov. 22 at http://www.jic.org/gemcontest. An e-mail address is the only information required to vote and visitors may vote once per day.
Jenniferand#8217;s essay was written to honor the positive influence a special aunt has made in her life and is titled and#8220;All That Glitters.and#8221;
You may have passed my Aunt Susie on the street recently and not even noticed her. She would have been wearing sensible shoes and dressed comfortably as she went about her grocery shopping or helping my grandmother to her appointments. There would have been nothing particularly eye-catching about her modest appearance, and you may not have given a second thought as to just how many and#8220;49thand#8221; birthdays this woman has celebrated. That hasnand#8217;t always been the case, however. When I was a young girl, Aunt Susie lived in a Hollywood-style ranch home with foil-wallpapered powder rooms and an art-deco pool fit for a movie star. Her hair was salon-perfect, her nails manicured, and on her tan hand she wore the most breathtaking antique emerald ring, which had been passed down over the generations from my great-great grandmother. As a young girl, I admired everything about Susie; she was classy, fun, and loved me as if I were her own. As the years passed, Aunt Susie started to exchange her glittery possessions for more time with her family. She worked hard to pay for college tuition and to buy the time to visit her grandchildren. On my 18th birthday, I opened the gift from Aunt Susie and found the heirloom emerald ring. At the time, Susie had a young daughter of her own for whom I believed she would save the ring, so I was equally shocked and grateful she had chosen to pass it on to me. I wore the ring with pride as I went about my early adult years trying to emulate the lifestyle I remembered my aunt enjoying. I acquired, consumed, achieved. But I wasnand#8217;t satisfied. It has taken me every day of the past eighteen years since receiving the ring, an entire half-lifetime, to learn the lessons Aunt Susieand#8217;s life lay out before me: Possessing the qualities of spiritual depth, clarity of purpose and fiery devotion is far more valuable than any material possession can ever be. And, whether we like to admit it or not, each of us is wonderfully flawed and amazingly rare. Aunt Susie now buys her clothes at consignment stores, shares a home with my grandmother whoand#8217;s no longer able to live alone, and doesnand#8217;t display a single glimmering article from head to toe. Her life has become the picture of both self-sacrifice and fulfillment. She makes ends meet on a fixed income since getting laid off from the law enforcement agency she served for over twenty years. She is a living example to our entire family that love and loyalty outweigh and outlast anything money can buy, and sheand#8217;s parted with almost everything without complaint to prove it. She did not need to wear the emerald gem on her hand because she is the gem. And when you look into her eyes you see the sparkle of her spirit and gleam of her generous heart and#8212; treasures that can never be bought or sold. Letand#8217;s just hope they can be inherited.