Lately I've been thinking about lovely. Yes, lovely. Why is the word so seldom used these days and what does it really mean?
I think it is used so seldom these days because our society is enamored with the exterior and being lovely has very little, if anything to do with the exterior. It is an interior quality born of the heart. It has more to do with the glint in your eye than the color of it. More to do with intent of your heart than the careful calculations of your words. More to do with the way you carry yourself than the way you look. More about the maturing of your soul than the aging of your skin.
My mom turned 82 on Thursday and yet I think she's becoming more lovely with each passing day. Her face is wrinkled and her hair has just started turning gray. Her pace is slowed and her accent thickens almost daily, but nonetheless she has become a very lovely woman. She easily could have chosen otherwise.
When she was 13 years old she moved out of her parents' home to go to work as a maid. "That's just how it was in those days", is how she puts it. She was the youngest of 6 children and never had much in the way of material things. Life was hard in the Netherlands in the 30's and 40's so every healthy person worked to help feed the family. My mom never knew any different. To this day she doesn't think of that time in her life as a hardship, but as a blessing.
In 1951 she and my dad married. Shortly thereafter, they--along with my dad's parents, his 5 siblings and spouses (with the exception of his youngest sister, who was single)--moved to 'the promised land' of America. Think about that for a minute...she left her own family behind to start a new life in a new country with a new husband. Together they had a total of 12 American dollars to start their life here. My oldest brother was born in 1952 and by the time he was 3 years old he had 3 sisters and a brother! You read that right. My mom had a 3 year old, a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and then? Twins! The fact that her hair is just now turning gray is a matter of amazement to me. And she wasn't done yet. By the time my oldest brother was 7 there were 7 of us!
Remember now, this was before the days of disposable diapers and formula and battery operated child swings. As you can imagine, my dad had to burn the candle at both ends to finance the endless sucking noise known as 'children eating'. My mom orchestrated the chaos at home alone for the most part. I have no idea how. That was just the formative years. Can you imagine this?...When I turned 13 she suddenly had 6 teenagers under her roof? Can you say, 'insanity'? And once again, my mom would say, "I didn't know any different" with the most genuinely understated smile you will ever see.
Tomorrow my brothers and sisters and assorted other family members will gather together to pay tribute to my mom. A woman who in my eyes has become the definition of...Lovely!