Mom was a pretty woman in many ways — gorgeous wavy auburn hair which lightened as she grew older, beautiful green eyes, and petite for most of her life. I’m nothing like her having taken after my dad’s side of the family. However, within that beauty was another persona that came to life at the strangest of times.
Here she is walking down Church Street in Nashville, TN, not long after I was born, likely spring 1946. She is on the right carrying me, and with her is her sister. I’m told a street photographer made this picture and didn’t charge them anything for it! The expression you see on mom’s face is typical — despite her beautiful features she didn’t seem to always find a way to smile.
I mentioned earlier about her beautiful green eyes. As soon as I was able to relate her eyes to behavior, I knew the signals. If she was happy, those beautiful eyes sparkled like emeralds. If she was angry, flashes of fire could be seen in the midst of the green. That’s when I learned to back away quickly and to run where I couldn’t hear or see her. When those eyes flashed, it meant something had happened that didn’t please her and no manner of explaining or trying to make it up would work. As a child, I often didn’t know what triggered this sudden change in behavior.
This morning, preparing for church, I was brushing my hair and was reminded of the numerous times she would lay across the bed and hang her long auburn hair down for me to brush. These are some of my most cherished moments with her because usually the entire experience ended without incident. I came away feeling that I had done my best for once, that she loved me in that moment, and I was left with a warm and fuzzy glow. That doesn’t mean it lasted the rest of the day or the week, but in that moment I felt the woman with the beautiful eyes and the lovely hair truly loved me.
We should remember that our actions and our words toward others truly have a deep and often scarring impact. Internal scars are never seen, but they are there and they are painful. My memories like this one keep those scars from surfacing and bringing pain. I always try not to hurt others with words or actions because I know the pain that results and the longlasting impact.