Beauty Never Fades

Beauty Never Fades

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

Beauty Never Fades

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

Once a week, no matter how busy I am, I take an afternoon off and just sit and stare at the clouds.

It’s not always easy to rearrange my schedule or put my deadlines on hold to carry out this weekly ritual. In fact, there are many times when I almost talk myself out of it. But in the end, once I park myself on my usual bench and turn my head skyward, my cares and troubles just seem to drift away as the clouds work their magic.

“Look! Look at that one,” my mother will say. “Look how soft and fluffy it is. And it reaches clear across the sky.”

My mother is eighty-eight years old and it is she who draws me to this weekly meeting with the clouds. Ten years ago, her doctors diagnosed her with dementia. But in her present state of constant peace and happiness, it’s hard for me to see her as demented. To me, she seems transcendent.

I’ve spent a good part of my life trying to reach a state of complete mental calm and peace. My mother has reached it. I struggle with daily demons of guilt and insecurity and fear. My mother has none. No matter how hard I try, I sometimes focus on the negative and ugly elements of life. But not my mother. All she ever sees is beauty. And she’s eager to share it.

“Mmmm, feel that breeze,” she’ll say. “Nice and soft.”

I realize that, if she hadn’t mentioned it, I probably would have let the breeze go unnoticed. But her words slow me down and I feel that gentle brush against my cheek, feel the slow-motion movement of my hair in the wind.

Every now and then she’ll turn to me and say, “But nothing is better than having my favorite daughter beside me. You are even more beautiful than the clouds.”

This time with my mother is bittersweet. She always had an eye for beauty. She always took the time to stop and gaze at the clouds or appreciate the wonder of a full moon. Her home was full of artifacts from nature that held intricate patterns and designs so miniscule that they would have gone unnoticed by a lesser mind—a mind that didn’t realize that life is short and full of infinite beauties to behold. But she saw them and she savored them and she collected them to point them out to others who didn’t take the time to stop and see. People like me. Too wrapped up in my jobs and my romances and even things as mundane as books or movies or television. I was too busy to see all that beauty around me, but also too busy to really notice how much of it was there, in my mother.

And so, each week, no matter what I am doing or how busy I am, I stop and visit my mother and we sit and stare at the clouds.

“Look! Look at that one,” my mother will say. “Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?” And I turn and look at her and realize that, until this precious time in my life, I don’t think that I have.

~Betsy S. Franz

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