In dusty corners of my mind, I hear my mother's voice telling me the story as if it were all new to me. But in reality I heard it so many times before, I could have repeated it word for word.

Out of respect, I didn't stop her. And because I loved to watch her tell the story.

Each time, I said, "Wow, that's great. She must have really loved you."

"Yes, she did," she'd tell me, holding the object in her hand. Then, after much thought, smiling through it all, she'd carefully place it back in her "treasure box" of memories for still another day.

I remember the first time I found it. "Mom, what is this?" I asked.

"Oh, that. That's my diamond pin," she replied.

"Mom, it's just an old clip-on clothes pin," I told her.

"It was a gift from my mom when I was just a little girl," she said smiling.

"But, Mom, it isn't much of a gift."

"She didn't have much to give. Times were different back then. We had little money but made up for it with lots of love," she told me. "Besides, the value wasn't in the pin. The value was in all it represented."

"This old wooden clothes pin is valuable?" I questioned. "We have a bag full of them on the back porch."

"The value is in the lesson, the story behind the 'diamond' pin," she said.

She sat down next to me and began to tell the tale.

"It was my thirteenth birthday and although I never really got many presents through the years, there was always something there for me to open. But things were extremely difficult that year. There was nothing she could give. So as creative as your grandma was, she gave me the best gift ever. That pin.

"Wrapped in some old tissue paper used and reused many times, she laid it at my place at the kitchen table just before dinner. My curiosity was getting the best of me. When she looked away, I'd hold it in my hand, feeling it, shaking it, trying desperately to find out what it was.

"Finally, after we ate, I opened it.

"To tell you the truth, I thought it was a joke. There, lying on top of the crumpled and torn paper, was a wooden clothes pin with the word, 'Diamond' written on it. "'What's this?' I asked her.

"'A diamond pin just for you,' she told me.

"And like you, I told her, 'It's just a clothes pin.' "Then she explained, 'That is no ordinary clothes pin. Well, at least not to me. Clip it on your collar or somewhere on your jacket and feel the difference,' your grandma told me.

"I picked it up and clipped it to the pocket of my blouse. I felt nothing but silly.

"'Although the pin itself appears ordinary to all who see it,' Grandma explained, 'the true value is not in the pin, but within the person wearing it. When I look at you the pin reminds me of the diamond within. Sure, anyone can buy a diamond pin to wear on their dress. All who gaze upon it look in awe of its sparkle and beauty. But in doing so they miss the real value of the person wearing it. The value they see is in the stone.

"'My birthday gift to you is the same gift you gave to me the day you were born...you. This 'diamond pin' is just a wooden clothes pin. The real diamond is inside of you.'

"Suddenly, I felt special. I felt the power. Not in the pin. But within myself." That was my mother's story.

You'll still find these wooden clip-on clothes pins in most stores. Buy a pack and write the word "diamond" on each one and clip them on people you meet along the way. Tell them the meaning of it and watch them as they discover the value of the "Diamond Within."

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