‘The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children.’ I can still remember how that felt when my adult children were little and they would put the short chunky little arms tight around your neck to make them feel safe and secure and loved. I don’t think I have many photos that captured these moments but the memories hold the vision in my mind and heart. The years fly by so quickly and you lose those moments as they grow up and cuddles become a bit too embarrassing for little people, to do in public yet alone in your own home. Hugs and kisses were fine for birthdays, hello’s and goodbye’s in our family. Maybe a bit backwards in physically showing the love through touch but we surely made up for it in words and said ‘love you’ lots. I did feel the same arms around me again in different circumstances looking for strength, love, encouragement and guidance when I transferred Jacob from chair to chair as the disease had taken the power of his legs. I used to tell him it was our funny way to dance as I pivoted his feet with mine to enable him to sit comfortably. I loved those impromptu cuddles and hugs but hated it at the same time because it was a stark reminder of what the disease had done to his once strong beautiful young adolescent body. He had the most beautiful hands and I got to hold them as he took his last breath. Those hands once held me tight. I do think though since we lost our beloved son and brother we have become more aware of affection we show towards one another and more spontaneous hugs and kisses come our way.
I don’t have their arms around me anymore like the quote in the first paragraph, and I don’t have jewels. But I do have something just like a precious jewel that I wear around my neck and close to my heart. We had some extremely unique and exquisite jewellery made from the titanium rod that was put into Jacob’s leg to replace the space where the tumour was. He was very proud of his scar that the operation had left going from the top of his knee the his hip. A 6foot 2inch frame meant a very long femur bone. He would often laugh about the rod making the metal detector machine go off at the airport when he would travel. He never got the chance to try it out.
We had to find a jeweller that would play and experiment with ideas of how to make memorial pieces of jewellery out of a metal that’s so hard. Our local jewellers took one look and said it was in the too hard basket. We had to search further. A good friend of Jacob’s said he had a jeweller in mind. Harry’s mum had used this jeweller to make them several pendants into quite an unusual shapes of two hands clasped together and did a fantastic job. So we set about asking him if he’d be willing to help us out. We corresponded by email telling him stories about who Jacob was so he could get a better feel for the person as he was making the jewellery making the end product more personal and individual. The jeweller Robert Young was honoured to be taking on such an emotional challenge to produce something that meant so much.
As it got closer to having a design we took a drive to Robert’s studio in Sydney. Amy, Ben and I took a drive early one Saturday morning to meet him with our own ideas of how you utilise the rod as turning the rod into rings became an impossible task. Ben had drawn and designed several pendants to wear on a bracelet or necklace. He welcomed us into his studio and shared with us his ideas of how the pendants might look like. Ben showed him his ideas too. We left there in complete satisfaction that Robert was going to make us something very special.
We asked him to make 20 pendants to represent the age that Jacob will be forever. He had to cut the titanium rod with a diamond cutter as it took all the teeth off the regular tools that are used to make his jewellery. He puts a lot of effort into each piece of jewellery he makes. In most of Robert’s jewellery you will see the word ‘love’ inscribed within the design. This is hand cut by using a jewellers saw that pierces the jewellery from one side to the other. Each ‘Love’ is unique, because each love is unique. The time, care and skill that goes into each piece of jewellery is all worth it for Robert knowing that his art found the right owner and will become a life long treasure.’ Each jewellery piece is a work of art that is indented to connect the wearer with meaning. The pieces are designed to be a timeless symbol of ‘moments full of meaning.’
Robert’s studio is situated in a pretty sounding name in a suburb of Sydney called Lilyfield. The road was called Balmain Road, which was another coincidence as both Amy, Pete and Jacob are avid Tiger’s fans and they were once called the Balmain tigers and we were in their territory so Jacob would have been smiling down on us for that. It was on this trip that I first heard the song 7 years that has become such a heartfelt number for me.
Because of Jacob’s interest in becoming a cinematographer the design of pendant became a shutter of a camera with a titanium piece individually set in the silver. When we received them all they were all very different as individual as a fingerprint so it meant more to you when you chose which one to wear. The hole in the middle would signify the loss and emptiness of not having him physically in our lives anymore.
Jacob’s pendants took several months to be completed but it was worth the wait. We picked them up on a cool rainy June day and were in awe at first site of them. In a little black box with a splash of red ribbon to pull the box open (red was Jacob’s favourite colour). We thanked him with a hug as we felt he’d become part of our family as he was putting so much feeling and emotion into the pieces of jewellery he was making for our family and some of Jacob’s friends.
We shared our photos of the jewellery on Facebook and wrote our own words of how much the pendants meant to us and I share photos and words here. I wrote – ‘such a bittersweet piece of jewellery x but it’s absolutely beautiful, because it’s a part of you ❤ (made with your titanium rod in your leg. I love how we can spin the circle camera shutter around the cord. Made by a very talented jeweller in Sydney, Balmain (Tigers territory) called Robert Young and it came in a little black box with red ribbon (red’s your favourite colour)
A beautiful piece of jewellery that will always be a part of you. I will wear it with pride and will always remember you when I do. Love you forever, miss you always xxx Amy
Got Jacob’s pendants today they are absolutely beautiful and definitely will hold a soft spot in our hearts, we will always have you close to us and always have a part of you. Made with your titanium rod that you were very proud of. Each one is individually cut so they each have their own story. Love them – Rachel
I would like to thank Robert Young jewellery for going above and beyond to create this precious piece out of the very hardened titanium steel that supported my brother through his life’s endeavours. He has now passed on parts of his strength to help us with endeavours of our own. We are forever grateful Cobby. – Ben
Robert made us 2 other pieces of jewellery to add to these 20 pendants. He shined up the tip of the rod where you could see the nail holes going through the rod and wrapped red wire around it.
The other very delicate little piece of jewellery was made using a little wire that I found amongst Jacob’s ashes and I said that it reminded me of the wires he would talk about being at the back of his teeth after his braces.
As I write these words on my iPad I’m tapping away with one hand while the other hand spins the pendant around the cord like the ‘circle of life.’ I’ll hold you in my heart until I can hold you in Heaven.
Thank you Robert Young