By Juanya Powell*
Some gifts have more importance than others. Valerie Gilbert has received the best gift of all – a cross necklace from her father when Valerie was only six.
The necklace, a small golden cross on a short, skinny chain, is an example of both her father’s faith in Christ and faith in her.
“My father was always so spiritual and took me to church all the time,” she said.
After Gilbert’s father died when she was only 12, Gilbert saw the necklace to have deeper meanings: Mourning, remembrance, and love for her father. This necklace means that she still has her father watching over her keeping her safe and that, when she needs to, she can trust in her faith to guide her.
“It’s like he’s my guardian angel. He’s up in heaven watching over me,” Gilbert said. She hopes she can hopefully pass it down to her child to feel the same and feel safe like she does.
Gilbert has rarely taken her necklace off. She said, “I only have taken it off four times” – for a pool party, twice when she needed to get it fixed, and to get it cleaned. She doesn’t like taking it off, but if it means keeping it safe, as her father has done for her, then it is worth it, Gilbert said.
She remembers a time when she thought she lost the chain when she took it off for the first time for a pool party. She remembers searching the whole house and all around the pool along with her friends until she found it.
“I was so relieved when I had found it, I was tearing up and was worried that I had lost both him and the necklace for good.”
Over the last 14 years, Gilbert said she has grown to appreciate the necklace and believes it truly is a good luck charm and a source of protection since her father has passed. She has been more involved with religion and her overall spirituality and wants her children in the future to do the same.
* This story is significantly abbreviated and edited from the original submission.