I was a month into my senior year and invited my mom and David to dinner. My mother was surprised and delighted that I included David. Though I never told her anything about our past, she knew that I didn’t care for him and went out of my way to avoid him in most cases.
Plymouth was only about a twenty minute ride and my mom didn’t need much of a reason to come to Ann Arbor. She got to visit me and window shop, which were two of her favorite things to do. Especially in the fall when the weather was warm, but not too hot. It was the perfect time to walk the streets of the city that was always alive with art, street musicians, and great places to eat.
I had left the house a little early and had some time to kill before heading to the restaurant that I had selected. I was checking out some of my favorite stores when I realized that my mother’s birthday was only a few weeks away. Since I knew I probably wouldn’t see her again for a few months I thought I better get her something and give it to her at dinner.
Just as this epiphany hit me I passed a high end Art and Antique shop. I had been by it several times, but had never ventured inside.
The store was a bit intimidating as I walked through the front door, as everything inside appeared to be very old, and in miraculous condition. Everyone knows that those two things equate to big money. Now I know why I had never been inside.
I had been working a part time job since I arrived at school, but nothing that paid very well. If it wasn’t for Ted’s generosity I would never have had a spare cent. I was very lucky that my tuition had been paid for through my senior year. Helen had a life insurance policy and in her Will a portion of it was to be used for my college education. Anything left over went to my mother.
I had just cashed my work check, and it was a little larger than usual due to several hours of overtime I had put in. I was hoping to get my mom a special gift this year. She had sacrificed so much for me and just once I wanted to get her something nice.
The aroma of fine leather, faint vanilla incense, and wood filled the air. The store even smelled expensive.
I was looking at a magnificent piece of furniture when out of the corner of my eye I saw someone walk out from the backroom.
“Good evening.” The gentleman said.
I must have surprised him, as he had an odd look on his face. He must not have heard me come in.
“Hi.” I said without looking at him.
I was fixated on all of the amazing pieces and my attention wandered.
“Anything I can help you with?”
“I’m not sure. It’s my mother’s birthday soon and I have no idea what to get her, but from the look of your store I’m not sure I came to the right place.”
The man stood quietly for a few seconds then stated without a hint of anger or agitation in his voice, “because she hates art and antiques or because you think my inventory is inadequate?”
I quickly realized that he misunderstood me and my face flushed.
“No, no. Sorry. That came out wrong. Your pieces are beautiful. Amazing actually, I just meant that I believe that I am very much out of my depth. I’m still a poor College student constantly on the brink of financial collapse. The items in here are a bit above and beyond, if you know what I mean. My mother would love everything in here I’m sure. I think she actually used to work in a place like this.”
The shop owner gave a hint of a smile.
“No one’s mother should go without just because of money.”
I was looking at a tiny lamp on an old oak end table when I saw the price tag hanging from the shade.
“I am afraid mine might, unless you are having a 90 percent off sale.” I said as I looked up at a painting hanging above the end table.
“Boucher?” I said as I glanced over to the man.
“You know your art my young friend. That was his end table your hand is resting on.” He said as if it was not a big deal.
I jerked my right hand off the table quicker than if it had been a hot stove. Obvious embarrassment was written all over my face for such a careless act. I knew better.
“Sorry. This was Francois Boucher’s table? The table that he himself owned? I hate to ask how much that is?”
“That one is a little pricey yes.”
The man motioned for me to follow him and then moved over to the glass case at the back of the store.
“I think we can find something in here that just might suit your mother.” He said as he unlocked the bottom portion of the case.
He opened the door under the counter and pulled out a slender shaped jewelry box and placed it on the counter in front of him.
I stepped up to the counter just as he was opening the box, displaying a beautiful bright silver charm that was attached to a thin black leather rope of some kind. The craftsmanship was amazing. The entire size of the charm was that of a half dollar coin. I wasn’t positive, but it looked to be made of silver, mixed with gold inlays.
Sir, this is extremely nice and very old I can tell. I know my mother would love it, but....”
The man cut me off quickly.
“It’s $200. It’s been sitting here for months and I am tired of looking at it.”
I looked up from the necklace and straight into the man’s eyes, really looking at him for the first time. I was trying to see if he was playing some kind of joke on me. I knew antiques, and had a fair knowledge of precious metals as well. It seemed too good to be true.
The man had an overall striking look about him, looked to be in his mid-thirties, but he had a confidence and a presence about him that made him appear older.
I looked back at the charm, which was a beautiful crescent moon, which was silver, and a long stem rose, that I believed to be gold, that cut through it diagonally. It was beautiful.
“Sold.” I said trying to contain my excitement.
My mom was going to love it. She had always had a thing for moons, especially when it was full on a clear night. She used to say it there was magic in a full moon.
“Great. I could have my niece wrap it up for you if you like?”
“That’s okay. The box is fancy enough.” I said.
It was true. The box was made of a sturdy wood and the inside was covered in a purple velvet material. That itself looked expensive.
I handed the man my money and picked up the gift. I hadn’t expected to spend that much money, but I knew that piece was worth far more than he charged me. I put the box inside the inner pocket of my jacket as the man handed me my change and receipt.
I started to walk out, then stopped and turned back toward the man.
“Thanks again sir. I really do appreciate the deal. It wasn’t lost on me”. I said sincerely.
The owner nodded politely.
“I can see that. You are welcome young man. I hope your mother has a happy birthday.”
Just before I made the exit I stopped, distracted by another fine piece of furniture.
“Hepplewhite?” I said.
I thought he was going to say something else, but he remained silent.
I exited the store into the perfect fall evening. Warm, but cool when the breeze blew.
It was a short walk to the restaurant and I couldn’t wait to see my mom’s face when I gave her the necklace. She was going to love it.