A Wedding Gown and a Poker Charm—Celebrity Keepsakes

These days, I’m fondly called the “Keepsake Lady," a term I embrace. After all, since Project Keepsake was published earlier this year, readers call me and send emails telling me about their beloved keepsakes. I love the stories people share with me—I really do. Each story is unique, yet each reveals common threads that connect us all.

So as the Keepsake Lady, I’ve assumed the responsibility of making sure readers don’t miss stories about keepsakes. There were at least two references to celebrity keepsakes last week—one in the mainstream media news and the other in the not-so-mainstream world of podcasts.

Angelina Jolie's wedding gown was covered with her children's artwork and now it's a keepsake.

Angelina Jolie's wedding gown was covered with her children's artwork and now it's a keepsake.

I’ll start with Angelina Jolie’s wedding gown. Did you see the photos? Angelina’s ivory Versace wedding dress was embellished with whimsical doodles of people, flowers, bikes, teddy bears, airplanes, and made-up words. The colorful, graffiti-like drawings, created by Jolie and Pitt's six children, were professionally embroidered onto her gown and veil.

Jolie told Hello! Magazine, "I wanted the kids to be a part of everything, including the dress, because that's our family. That represents the way we live our life together."

I usually roll my eyes at wacky pop culture stories, but the story of Jolie’s dress made me smile in the middle of a week brimming with the horrors of ISIS beheadings, the Syrian slaughterhouse, Putin’s power play, and ebola ripping across West Africa.

I think that all wedding dresses are destined to become keepsakes to the brides who wear them, but Jolie’s wedding frock will be a priceless family keepsake, forever. Her kids’ love, creativity, and handiwork are all over the gown, and their doodles add meaning to both the dress and the occasion.

The day after I saw the photos of Jolie’s doodle dress, I downloaded a few episodes of The Moth podcast (www.themoth.org) and went out for a morning run. As my feet pounded the pavement, I listened to professional poker player, Annie Duke, tell an inspirational story in front of a live, Las Vegas audience. In “The Big Things You Don’t Do,” Duke chronicles what it was like to play in the most high-stakes poker game of her life—the $ 2 million, winner-take-all, 2004 Tournament of Champions. She won, by the way.

In the podcast, she talks about playing at a table against nine of the best poker players in the world and wondering if she had been asked to compete because of her gender, and not her skill. She reveals that one of the poker players said something to her during a break that robbed her of her confidence. And she mentions poker player, Greg “Fossil Man” Raymer.

Professional poker player, Greg "Fossil Man" Raymer, uses polished fossil slices as card protectors. He gave one of his poker charms to Annie Duke after she knocked him out of a 2004 poker tournament. 

Professional poker player, Greg "Fossil Man" Raymer, uses polished fossil slices as card protectors. He gave one of his poker charms to Annie Duke after she knocked him out of a 2004 poker tournament. 

Well, I don’t watch television poker, even though my father loved poker more than anyone on God’s green earth, but I read a lot. I am familiar with Annie Duke, but I had never heard of Greg “Fossil Man” Raymer prior to listening to her story. Duke explains that Raymer uses fossil charms as card protectors, and he gifts his fossils to poker players who knock him out of tournaments. Duke knocked “Fossil Man” out of the 2004 tournament, and he walked around the table, handed her a fossil, and whispered something to her that revived her confidence. It was a signature moment for her.

I bet Annie Duke still has that fossil. I’m sure that her winning the tournament transformed the little polished relic into a priceless keepsake—a reminder of an event she'll never forget. Indeed, her fossil keepsake will forever be part of the story now.

Everyone—even celebrities—has a keepsake, and every keepsake has a story to tell.

We keep things so we will remember, but somewhere along the way, our keepsakes take on lives of their own and define where we came from, what matters to us, and perhaps most of all, who we are. Jolie's wedding dress and Duke's card protector tell us a little bit about who they are.

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