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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

The Gold He Left Behind

Pyrite, Fool.s Gold    CCO
Pyrite, Fool's Gold CCO

When my son was a little boy, he found a rock. Of course, he found many, but this one was special. He rushed into the house to show me his newfound treasure and insisted that we go to the bank and deposit it. It was challenging to explain that this was not genuine gold. It looked like gold, indeed. I emphasized the beauty and specialness of finding such a rock, and I suggested that he keep it. Although he was disappointed, he seemed to have faith in my explanation. Months later, we were preparing to move. When my son’s mattress was removed, there on the boxspring was the fool’s gold—a perfect nugget in a safe place. Obviously, he did not want to accept that his valuable find was just that. I took the rock and went out into the yard, where he was playing with his brother and sister. I called to him, and together we sat on the porch steps. I explained that we were moving his bed and that I had found the gold. We decided to put it in a safe place to take to our new home. I kept it in my jewelry box and gave it to him after we were settled. From time to time, if one of us found fool’s gold, he was the first to tell us that it wasn’t real.

To this day, I collect rocks, feathers, shells, well-worn wood, and random things from the wild. I haven’t come across much gold, but along with many other delightful bits and pieces, I have. My son turned out to be an exceptional young man. He followed his heart and embarked on a successful career. Then, the world was turned upside down, bringing him back home to reclaim the parts of him that had been scattered in the continued chaos. A few days ago, he left, striking out on a new and different path. I paused before going into his room like I always do when my children leave. There on the table was a shiny rock—fool’s gold. That was more powerful than anything else he could have left behind. At first, I just stared at it. Then, leaving it on the empty table, I walked out of the room. Many mothers know where my heart is as I retell this moment in time. It doesn’t matter how old your child is; there is always a deep hole left behind when they leave. This can happen often. In time, we adapt and return to our empty nest. It’s how it is, and positive and bright with the proper perspective. It may seem elusive, but it’s an example of creating your own reality. The next day, I was ready. I returned to the room, headed straight for the gold, and picked it up. I could see how one might think that it was real. To me, at that moment, it was genuine; no one could have convinced me otherwise. I, too, would have hidden it under my mattress. When I held it in my hand at first, it was cold. It warmed up instantly. I went to my studio and set it on the desk. My dear son left it behind. It’s mine now. I think I’ll fashion it into a pendant where it will rest near my heart.


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