By Bruce Stambaugh
My brothers, sisters and I were extremely fortunate. Our mother cloaked her love in grace and mercy. I wish everyone could say that.
Our late mother loved in so many ways. Compassion was a gift she abundantly shared.
Mom’s calm demeanor didn’t keep her from taking care of business when she had to, however. With five active cherubs on the loose, her hand of justice reached out and touched someone whenever needed. Mom fairly disciplined simply to teach right from wrong.
As was the norm in the post-World War II era, Dad was the family breadwinner. He was an engineer by trade. Mom was an engineer, too, a domestic one, though the proper term back then was housewife. Mom masterfully coordinated all the cooking, cleaning, washing, planning, nursing, and entertaining.Mom had an uncanny, almost instinctive ability to adapt to many situations. With her five ornery children and one needy husband, it must have been her survival mechanism. Our hyperactive, always on the go father likely had something to do with that.
Dad was the prototypical Type-A personality, joining sporting, civic and church activities that often took him away from home right after he had finished the supper Mom had prepared. Mom seemed to take it in stride.
However, I remember some rather heated discussions occasionally punctuated the night air when us kids were supposed to be fast asleep. Speaking the truth in love was the thread that stitched Mom’s compassionate mantle.
I always admired that spunkiness. It perfectly balanced her more tender side, which was the one she wore so beautifully most often.
I have fond, vivid memories of us kids exploring boxes full of black and white photos that documented our parents’ early years together. I always chuckled at the one with Mom holding a shotgun. Dad claimed he and Mom did go hunting together, and Mom never denied it. But it was just so unlike the mother I remember. She disliked cooking the game Dad brought home.
Mom was always there for us, especially if we were sick. News of the latest mumps outbreak brought back vivid memories for me. I was miserable lying on the couch, covered in a homemade afghan, Mom trying her best to get me to drink and eat something, anything, instinctively knowing my painful discomfort.
And yet, she soldiered on with the rest of her household chores, making sure supper was ready, and everyone had clean clothes for the next day’s activities.
Despite all she had going on, Mom wouldn’t hesitate to stop what she was doing and play catch with us or dig a flower for a teacher or visit a sick neighbor. Mom lived her love.Mom was very artistic, and blossomed into an award-winning watercolor painter. She and Dad even went on annual weeklong art junkets to the mountains of the Carolinas.
When Mom accompanied Dad on special archeology digs, she painted while he dug or hunted for artifacts. One of her landscapes graced the cover of a book. Mom was that good.
Mom’s paintings now adorn the walls of friends, family, and extended family members all across the country. They are beautiful testimonies to her artistic abilities and to the passion that she invested into all her efforts.
Mom lived 90 remarkable years. This is the third Mother’s Day without her. We greatly miss her. Mom’s gracious love lasts not only in our memories and her lovely paintings, but also in our hearts.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.