To say that Dad was smitten with Mom would be a terrific understatement. No question, she hung the moon. They married in 1943, and like many wartime gals, she wore a silver heart charm bracelet from her man in uniform.

When Dad gave her the bracelet, it only had one charm – a heart with a cross and anchor on one side (Navy man!) and his name, Tom, engraved on the other. Her name, Betty Jane, was engraved on the heart lock clasp.

Dad also gave her several additional heart charms to have engraved with the names of those most close to her and add to her bracelet. They included her parents, her maternal grandmother, her sister Irene, and her sister’s children, Judy and Bobbie.

My mom with her parents, Flo & Les Askin, circa 1934 in California
Mom with her grandmother, Grandma Keefe, circa 1930
Mom’s sister & husband, Bob & Irene List in the 1930s. Irene gave a heart for Bob for Mom’s bracelet.
Mom with Aunt Jessie, her mother’s sister.
Mom & Dad visiting family in California with Irene, Judy & Bobbie List and my brother, Tom, who was born in 1948.

In 1951, I was the last to join the cousin possie of Judy, Bobbie and Tom. My Dad found an enameled blue heart for me. Mine is the only heart engraved by him with his high-speed dental drill!

Mom and I, circa 1953

As a little girl, I always loved when Mom wore her heart bracelet. Not only did it make the best tinkling sound when she moved her hand, but I loved to ask her to tell me stories about “all the heart people.” My grandmother, Flo, was a great teller of family stories, but my Mom not so much. Without the help of her silver heart bracelet, I’m not sure I would have nearly as many memories of her favorite people.

When my parent’s first grandchild was born in 1970, I searched to find a silver puffed heart to add to her bracelet for Chloe. When my children, Carrie & Kevin, came along in 1977 and 1980, I was able to find vintage hearts to have engraved for them. It was important to me to have my children’s hearts dangling among the rest of the special ones.

Dad & Mom with Chloe in Montreal, circa 1973
Dad & Mom with Kevin & Carrie in North Carolina, circa 1982

“Bracelets with Meaning” are all the rage today, and I can totally understand why. Wearing them reminds you of someone special to you – perhaps many people special to you. My grandmother, Flo, received a silver charm bracelet in the 1960s from her daughters, Betty & Irene, and we all added grandchildren profiles as our tribe increased. My daughter Carrie now has Flo’s bracelet with the “Carrie”, “Sally”, & “Betty” charms and a new decorative “Flo” charm. Ken & I gave our daughter-in-law a bracelet bearing her three children’s names for Christmas. A friend has a collection of bangles with different charms in memory of her #4.

I’ve been very fortunate to have many lovely jewelry gifts over time from my husband, and each carries a sweet memory of a time, place and feeling. I’ve had my Mom’s heart charm bracelet for several years now, and I typically wear it most during the month of February when we’re all thinking about hearts and Valentines. How lucky am I to have my Mom’s forever Valentines with me.

Written by


One thing that makes my journey unique is that all of my interests are driven by a joyful and genuine curiosity. I delight in finding less expensive ways to make something or creative ways to enjoy something longer. Finding and creating joy - and sharing it - is core to who I am.