Fifty Years On

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The figure is tall, graceful;
Still-girlish femininity displayed
In a long-limbed carriage.
The arms fluctuate in rhythm
And slender fingers crook,
Walking in space as animation dominates
During wry, humorous tales
Of what happened that day
In her circle of work or play.

The face remains serene and clear,
A profile easily worth a second look;
Skin unmarred by a half-century;
Framed by long blonde hair,
Bright in the sun from early days;
Light laugh lines do crinkle
Around wide bluebonnet eyes
Open to life's ironies and family stories,
Like parental antics and language slips,
Swiftly softened by a generous view:
"We're not laughing at you but with you!"

A big boost came for busy Mom
When her maternal gifts showed early:
Caring for siblings, though herself a child
With a disposition patient and mild;
A playmate in games like tag after dark
Or summer picnics in the park;
Sweetly singing harmonies
With her little buddies
From the back seat on the road;
Whatever the appropriate mode.

Later a remark to a sister,
Describes a goal that would test her:
"I can't stand the idea
"Of either one being alone."
And so the seed of her dream is sown
And ultimately comes true:
A yellow house ringed with flowers
And shrubs and trees that tower;
And velvet greens: a phantasmagoria of hues
Decorating a golf-course view.
For aging parents, it's more than beauty,
It's a source of love and security.

All part of layers of an encompassing
Quilt of her gentle presence
And unquestioning performance,
Stitched through self-sacrifice for others:
A quiet, calming voice; mostly listening;
Empathizing; there when needed,
Whatever the difficult task,
Making those in that loving warmth
Feel fortunate just to bask.

Daily praying and bible-searching,
Seeking truth and the deeper meanings
And a pattern for an enhanced existence
That supports the needs and causes
Of those within her scope,
Stressing faith and courage
To those without hope;
A woman who bestows spiritual gems
In a necklace of shining deeds:
Concerns for the unfortunate
In her daily rounds, reaching out
To the elderly with missing segments
Where swift intelligence and achievements
Once coursed, now blasted,
Leaving a tormenting legacy
Of bewilderment, confusion and pain.

Nearly always of good cheer,
Sometimes one senses a darker mood
When her children take a wrong road,
Or the deep personal hurt
When a friend surrenders a life,
Or takes a turn for the worse.

Spurred to action when bureaucracy,
Cruelty or wanton neglect
Violate compassionate instincts,
The stretch of her service is ever-wider:
Counseling clients or colleagues
Or defending her staff;
Meals for the sick, burned-out,
Or other tragedy-stricken;
Perhaps snacks, bread-making,
A telephone call to check up
On a wayward relative,
Or brighten moments for the troubled.
Years of planning, teaching
And conceiving, cutting out, pasting
And drawing for Sunday School
Or Vacation Bible School youngsters
With lavish dispersal of biblical messages.
Her creativity, artistic aplomb
And adeptly-wrought images
Extend to gifts on living room walls,
Prominently gracing them with bright
Splashes of color and beauty;
Rendered with no thought of profit,
The only loss registered is time,
Spent freely, facing constant bankruptcy.

We on her path are fortunate to know
Of the kindness and concern that flow,
Abounding in such great measure;
We marvel, savor and treasure
The smiles she brings to our faces;
The light she brings to dark places;
The sunshine she sheds on gloomy days;
Her love expressed in so many ways.