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Nostalgia May 2012

Agelessly Yours

Inner Beauty – Thy Name Is Mother

By Karen White-Walker

Another onlooker doubles over with laughter and when my mother sees herself in the mirror, she laughs harder than those around her. Imagine, that ability to laugh at yourself and not be afraid of what others think, except maybe your family?

Often death glorifies a person and paints a distorted picture of how great they really weren't. Death diminished my mother's image by depriving all of us now of her beauty and magnetic personality. I tell ya, you couldn't go anywhere with that woman without strangers gravitating toward her and wondering aloud if she was for real? You bet she was and I guess that was her magic — the true blue thing! Think diamonds, not cubic zirconiums, sterling, not silver-plated, dazzling, not dull.

If timing in comedy is everything, than wearing a captivating smile and having an infectious laugh is a sure bet to connecting practically with everybody out there. People can instinctively sense when something or someone isn't genuine, and given Mom's authenticity, you'd never catch her singing song lyrics like --- It is only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea..... It's a Barnum and Bailey world, just as phony as it can be. Nope, Mom believed the world and its people had substance probably because she had substance.

But the added bonus is that she had this incredible sense of humor. You couldn't even do a simple thing like going shopping with her without it turning into a comedy skit. I ask you, where's that darn Candid Camera when you want it? Only my mom with her dark eyes, brown hair and olive-colored complexion could walk into a wig store, plop a Dolly Parton hair piece on her head — think long flowing blonde curls and so bouffant she couldn't have made it through New York City's Holland Tunnel without getting stuck, and suddenly all the store's customers are laughing hysterically.

One woman jokingly points and yells out, "What is it?" while I only wish Mom could pass as a country Western singer. Another onlooker doubles over with laughter and when my mother sees herself in the mirror, she laughs harder than those around her. Imagine, that ability to laugh at yourself and not be afraid of what others think, except maybe your family?

"Karen, honey, what do you think?"

"The truth?"

"What else is there?"

"You look like Buck Owens in drag!"

Before we leave that store, so help me, one customer runs over, hugs and kisses my mom, thanking her for making her laugh until she cried.

That reminds me — when I was younger my mother, who could bring so much joy to the outside world, did, unintentionally, of course, make me cry. I was her firstborn, her learning experience, her “dry-run” on what not to do with the other children, for you see, she was so fearful for me, “her baby,” to go out into the world and make my own way. Every milestone that was putting me on the journey toward adulthood was such a big deal, like my wanting to shave my legs when the hair started growing through my knee socks, and needing to wear a training bra because it hurt when I jumped rope.

"Don't rush your childhood, darling, puberty, cramps, hot flashes, it's all here before you know it," warned Mom.

"Not for me if you don't allow me to grow up!" I retorted.

Throughout the years that was about the extent of my clashing with Mom. Oh wait! there was that time, no, forget it, there are now only mainly delightful memories and very few regrets that keep me going over the profound loss of losing this gem last year, three months short of her young 87th birthday.

They say a day without laughter is a day without sunshine, well, without that little lady it's like losing both. But Mom would want me to keep smiling through my heartache — lessons learned from her, especially after one of her friends confided in me that because Mom was such a riot, she (the friend) was sure glad she was wearing Depends! Ma, I pray I should leave such a legacy!

 

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