Saturday, February 09, 2008

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!


McSwain said...

A lovely post about a lovely lady. Another word we don't hear much these days is "gracious." It sounds like your mother is that as well. You've written about something that's often been on my mind lately. My mother worries about the loose skin on her neck, being 67, all of that. I think she's gorgeous. My grandmother had the most beautiful dancing blue eyes every. Here in L.A., there is too much focus on youthfulness. It takes a man of depth to recognize lovely, and to know its importance.

I have a feeling your lovely mother raised some men of depth.

McSwain said...

I meant "ever," not "every" in that comment. I've had too much coffee today--can't type straight. :)

Ame said...

Wow, John. What an incredible Mom; you are so incredibly blessed :)

And she is so incredibly blessed to have all seven of you :)

May I become such a Mom for my girls to look upon the same way someday.

Anonymous said...

John, Kindly send my love to Grace....and congratulate her on having a fine son. No not those other goons! Mark

Lori said...

I love the word "lovely" and like to use it in my writing because it encompasses something so different than the word "beautiful".

Your mother does indeed sound like a lovely woman. She reminds me a lot of my mom, raising six children, and coming from a family of eleven. I marvel at all the things she did with grace, class and a smile. She made our world lovely and taught us to see not only with our eyes, but with our hearts.

Blessings to you all for having such a warm - and lovely - woman to call "Mother".

Ame said...

i sent you an email at the one listed on your comments. pls let me know if you rec'd it or not. thanks

Lori said...

We are both fortunate to have our mothers, aren't we?

Thank you so much for your kind remarks. They are so appreciated.

I miss reading you. Hope all is well in your world.

Anonymous said...

So, you're the youngest son of a woman who was one of six children? I, too, am one of six. My parents are both gone now. I'm glad you all gathered to honor your mother--you'll treasure those memories forever. God blessed me with great parents. I miss them.

martie said...

How blessed you and your Mom both are to have each other. When I read this post (okay, it's March, and I just found you)it brought back memories of my mom when I was small. She went to live with Jesus at the age of 49. She's been gone 42 years now and your post made me miss her all over again! (Not that I ever quit missing her). What I'm trying to say is that this is a 'lovely' post and it made a tear trickle down my cheek! May God bless your Mom with happiness for the rest of her life!