This was my mother’s everyday jewelry: A nice watch, a traditional jade ring, and a fancier ring with a pearl.

The sparkly brooch, with clear and teal rhinestones, was her special occasion brooch, and I’ve spotted it in photos of her at parties and office functions.

My mother always wore a watch. They changed throughout the decades, but they were always sleek, made of metal and cool to the touch. She seemed disappointed that I did not share her appreciation for fine watches.

My mother came of age in 1960s America, and was raised by her strict, immigrant parents to be a lady. I think she associated wristwatches with sophisticated ladies and professional women, with having made it. I do wear the jade ring she gave me, every day. And while I still do not wear a watch, I do aspire to be a lady.

“This is how I want her to be remembered”

Illustration by Mercedes Leon
Commissioned by Charlene Lam in memory of my mother Marilyn