By Bruce Stambaugh
My late mother was a beautiful woman in so many ways.
Her physical features spoke for themselves at every stage of her long life. Reviewing old black and white photos, it was clear Mom was a looker in her early youth, as a young wife and beyond.
Dad used to tell a story about the time his co-workers first saw Mom at a company picnic. They asked Dad, who was lanky with big ears and a protruding nose, if Mom was mad at herself on the day she married him. Dad took that as a compliment.
Mom looked especially stunning in the many hats she wore throughout her life. Folks in the retirement community where she and Dad spent their final years always commented favorably on how grand Mom looked in her matching outfits.
Mom’s real beauty was in her heart and soul. Though never an openly affectionate woman, Mom expressed her splendor in the way she lived her life.
Mom generously shared her gifts of kindness, patience, and creativity whenever and wherever she could. If a neighbor was sick, she was at their door with food for the family.
If one of us kids needed something, Mom would often stop what she was doing and helped us. Once I admired a glossy red tulip growing in our flower garden. Mom left the kitchen and carefully dug and potted the flower for me to take to school for my teacher.
When Mom was hospitalized for a few days, the house seemed dark and still. Though we were well cared for, we missed her light and life.
I’m sure my four siblings each have their own stories to share as well. It took a talented woman to balance her skills of parenting, cleaning, cooking, patching scrapes and dabbing tears.
Mom wasn’t a staid woman either. She couldn’t be with five ornery cherubs tearing around the house.
Believe me, we knew when one of us had crossed the line. The stress we caused her likely contributed to her wavy dark hair prematurely turning snow white. That made her all the more attractive.
Mom helped us with schoolwork, gave us blankets to make tents over the clothesline, and provided cool drinks on hot summer days. She laughed even if our jokes were lame, and cried when things seemed to just unravel.
Her devotion to Dad further evidenced her inner beauty. As controlling and contrary as Dad could be, Mom stood her ground in expressing her opinions. Her love for him, however, never wavered.
I don’t recall him ever saying it, but I think Dad clearly understood that he was one fortunate man in marrying this lovely woman. He always gave her cards, flowers, candy and other gifts on holidays and her birthday.
With Dad’s encouragement, Mom got her driver’s license at age 40. He also coaxed her into taking art lessons, knowing her natural ability to draw and paint.
Mom’s beauty radiated from her mind’s eye into her vibrant watercolor paintings. She won many awards for her still life and landscape representations.
Mom was as humble and classy as Dad was brash and bold. She never boasted about her awards nor charged enough for the paintings she sold. She was happy just to have others enjoy her artwork.
If that isn’t beauty personified, I don’t know what is.
This will be the fourth Mother’s Day without Mom. I can still see her gorgeous smile, and sense her generous love. I hope your mother was just as beautiful as mine.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2015