By Bruce Stambaugh
Though she’s been gone now for four years, my mother still watches over me. I just never know when she will appear.
This isn’t a ghost story. It’s a love story.
Every now and then, a photo I took of my mother years ago spontaneously pops up on my computer. I never know when it’s going to happen. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to her appearance. Mom’s photo just inexpliciably shows up, and I couldn’t be happier.
I might be surfing the Internet or working on a photo project. I click my laptop’s mouse pad and boom; Mom is smiling away at me from the left side of my computer screen. She looks as elegant as ever, satisfied, happy, her wavy silver hair complimenting her rosy cheeks and her radiant smile.
At first, this sudden appearance spooked me. I can’t explain why her photo appears. But I’m ever so glad that it does. This lovely profile is the way I want to remember her.
There’s a lot of good to recall about Mom. My brothers, sisters and I were fortunate. We had a loving, lovely mother. Not everyone can say that.
Mom was everything a mother should be to her children. That wasn’t always easy either given the different personalities and demands of her five cherubs.
Our catalog of behaviors and misbehaviors revealed the alpha and omega of our mother’s temperament. She was no pushover. But she could be gentle and tender, too.
Even in the midst of the busyness of running an active household, Mom made time for each of us. She once interrupted lunch to dig up a bright red tulip for me to take to my fourth-grade teacher.
Mom knew how to discipline, too. She was firm but fair. But if we went too far, we’d hear the dreaded words, “Wait until you father gets home from work!”
Besides her skills as a domestic engineer, Mom was an accomplished artist, an excellent listener, a sports enthusiast, and a much better driver than Dad. She got her license when she was 40.
When I was a senior in high school, I only attended school in the morning due to classroom overcrowding. That meant I was home alone with Mom every school day afternoon. Mom and I had some amazing talks together.
Mom related personal stories I had never heard before, and I doubt she ever told anyone else. That conveyed all I needed to know about her love and trust. She set a high standard for being a parent.
Later in her long life, things changed for Mom. She began to show signs of dementia. The Alzheimer’s prevented Mom from expressing herself they way she wanted.
We could see her frustration in that, and would just sit with her peacefully as she gazed out a window. Nevertheless, Mom still looked sharp in her color-coordinated outfits that she had picked out to wear. Mom never lost her artist’s eye.
That’s why I enjoy it when that photo of her suddenly appears on my computer screen. I pause and remember just how much I miss her, and what a beautiful mother, wife, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, and neighbor she was to so many.
When that picture of Mom appears, I can hear her reassuring voice say, “It’s all right, Bruce. I’m at peace in my new life.”
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thanks for still watching over me.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2016
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