This is one of the stories I tell when somebody actually asks me for a story. It's true. It's historic. It's not touching or inspiring, but most people like it anyway.

My great-grandfather was, if family accounts are correct--and they usually are, especially when you're dealing with a dead guy--a cheap-ass miserable asshole. He used to frequent pawn shops, in the interest of, well, being a cheap-ass, I suppose. He had a son, but his wife was either dead or just gone, I don't remember. Anyway, at some point he met my great-grandmother, a gentle German girl right off the ship. Her name, believe it or not, was Helga. My great-grandpappy offered to marry Helga, and she was flattered and happy that she woudln't just go broke and die in the streets like so many immigrants did those days. So she married him. On their wedding night, he showed her to her room, informed her that he'd only married her so she could keep the house clean and raise his son, and left. Yeah, he was that kind of asshole.

Anyway, Helga did what she was told because it beat the shit out of starving in the streets of early-20th-century Chicago, where all this was happening. One day, when they'd been married for a while, Great-Grandpappy showed up in Helga's room in the middle of the night and had sex with her. She ended up pregnant from this act, and grandpappy told her, "Fine. Don't say I never gave you anything." And so my grandmother, my dad's mom, was born.

Granddaddy continued to be a dick and Helga continued to run the house and raise the kids. From what I've heard, Helga was a sweetheart and everybody loved her except her husband. She, however, was always grateful to him for marrying her and giving her children, even one of her own, and she was forever defending him to everybody else.

In the middle of their lives, my great-grandaddy happened across a pendant in his favorite pawn shop, which was owned by his sister's husband. His sister's name was Marie, and she too was always defending Helga. Marie convinced my great-grandaddy to buy this pendant for Helga, and after being assured that it was cheap and worthless, he did.

The pendant, I should interject, is reportedly a silverish cross with stones in it; it was sold for something like a quarter to my great-grandaddy. The pawn-shop owner, great-grandaddy's brother-in-law, told him that it was cheap silver and rhinestones and would probably turn Helga's neck green. But Helga never wore it.

No, she was so blisteringly happy over her present that she put it away safe and would never wear it. Even though she got it with an admonition of "Don't ever say I never bought you a present," Helga was all teary-eyed and happy about it. She never knew that it was cheap shit; she bragged to Marie and everyone else how wonderful her husband was. Marie, of course, had a hard time keeping her mouth shut, but she did.

Then the miserable bastard died, leaving Helga with plenty to live on, even with their two kids--he was a miser, remember. But she wanted to display the wonderful gift he'd given her, the only gift he'd EVER given her, and so Helga took the pendant to a jeweler's to have it cleaned.
Marie was insane with terror, but she couldn't think of a way to keep Helga from going without telling her what a piece of shit her late husband really was. So Helga went to the jeweler's.

And, wouldn't you know it, the jeweler almost falls flat on his face when he sees the pendant. He informs Helga that it is not only an important antique, but it's made of absolutely pure platinum with ten PERFECT diamonds set into it. Even the chain is hand-crafted platinum. It's worth a fortune.

So Helga got what she deserved in the end, but unfortunately she left the UberPendant to Marie, who had children and left it to them. So I, who would otherwise be the one with it in my hot little hands by now, got screwed. It is no comfort to me that my name, too, is Marie, even though it IS a neat coincidence. (No, I wasn't named after that Marie; I was named after my mother's mother. Completely different story there.)

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