Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)
TITLE: ON THE BEACH
By Kenneth Heath
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As I struggled through the soft sea sand, the words of an old Moody Blue song drifted through my mind. “…and the tide rushes in and washes my castles away….”
As if to confirm the bard’s words, the waves came crashing in, erasing my footprints and scattering beautiful, smooth, round stones onto the shore. Originally the stones were rough and ugly, being lifted from the ocean floor, they have tumbled together, rubbing and grinding until emerging smooth and polished into the sunlight for all to see.
I believe my mother is such a ‘stone’. She was born in 1926 and is now 82 years old. She is tough and resilient, having weathered all the storms that life has thrown at her. At the tender age of 3½, she was sent to boarding school with her older sisters. There she met Jean, her life-long friend of 78 years. According to them, they were the ‘terrors’ of the school, holding sway over the older children with their playground antics. Her teenage years were spent quietly during World War 2 as most of the boys had gone up North to fight. Her father died a few years later and she was forced to give up her hopes and dreams and find employment to help support the family.
In 1956 she married the love of her life and later gave birth to two sons. As with any marriage, there were the usual storms and disappointments, but she chose to rise above them, being more than a ‘Proverbs 31’ wife and mother, if that were at all possible. Guiding my brother and I through the “rebellious teenage years” of the late 60’s and early 70’s was a challenge, but with love, discipline and a whole lot of prayer she succeeded. To enhance our basic education, she took us on overseas trips to the UK and Europe, so that we could see the sights and experience the various cultures first-hand.
The performing arts were also high on her agenda and we saw every opera from the light-hearted Gilbert and Sullivan’s to the heavy Italian Dramas. My dad said they were his most ‘expensive sleeps’. She joined a Movie Theatre Club and we viewed all the old silent movies, the black and whites and the classics. From stage musicals to symphony concerts, we saw them all. She even threw a Ballet in for good measure and encouraged us to read in order to expand our minds. One could say that due to her we really did receive a well-rounded education.
Her great love of music and animals has permeated down through us to her grand-children and none of our homes are ever silent or without a multitude of pets running around. When my brother and I married, she embraced our wives as the daughters she never had, forming close bonds with them. Her grand-children are the apples of her eye and they never tire of her company as she continually imparts wisdom and guidance to them. She has always kept herself busy and her mind active by doing cross-words and tapestries, with many a beautiful tapestry adorning her home and ours.
Strawberries with thick, clotted cream are her favourite dessert and did no-doubt contribute to the two quadruple heart bypasses she has had ten years apart. She also fell ill with a condition known as Arachnoiditis, where an inflammation of the spinal nerves left her paralyzed for 3 years. Much prayer went up before she was miraculously healed. A serious car-wreck left her in a coma for two weeks and yet again she recovered. To date no event, no matter how traumatic, has ever dampened her spirit or her will to live.
One could say it is her tenacious attitude to life that has carried her through, and while I have caught her in a few private, tearful moments, especially after my Dad’s passing, she has chosen to embrace life, encouraging us all to do like-wise. Her credo in life has always been honesty and integrity, together with an unshakable faith in God.
Reflecting on her bubbling personality, her gentle smile and her infectious laugh, I believe that she is just like one of those polished stones on the beach, beautiful and complete, shaped by the trials of life into a living stone, being used for God’s glory.
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