Beautiful Angel

By Sue Mayfield-Geiger

Beautiful Angel

When a photojournalist friend of mine told me she was putting together a book a few years back about ordinary women, she asked me for recommendations. I thought a bit and asked if there was an age limit. “Not at all,” she said. “We want women who have a story to tell; women who are courageous, proud and beautiful inside and out.”

My widowed mother, Edna, close to 90 at the time, was still living in her home, looked sensational for her age and was a true survivor. Born in 1916, she somehow got through a most difficult childhood. Edna’s biological mother died when Edna was a baby, leaving her widowed father with five children to care for. With no Child Protective Services or child labor laws being enforced then, the mental and physical abuse mom suffered under the hands of her stepmother was horrific.

Leaving school in the seventh grade paved the way for my mother to get a job and move in with an older sister. The abuse did not stop, however; and the stepmother found ways to continue the torment from afar. Eventually, Mom met my dad, who married her, and gave her the happy life she had missed out on. They had 61 years together before Dad died in 1999.

It was hard for Mom to continue life without him, because Dad had totally spoiled her. He handled all the finances, gave her everything she needed and desired and drove her anywhere she wanted to go. You see, Mom never learned how to drive a car. Oh, Dad tried to teach her, and she even took lessons, but she was just too nervous to grasp the concept. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was not in anyone’s vocabulary a few decades ago, but it was quite evident that Mom suffered from it her entire life. She had a stuttering problem and hated confrontation. She had a limited vocabulary and often mispronounced words. Yet aside from her shortcomings, she was a beautiful woman with jet black hair, high cheekbones and enchanting brown eyes. She had an amazing soprano voice and loved to sing. She exuded warmth, love and kindness.

Somehow, when she was suddenly faced with living alone, she surprised us all and went forward with her life with strength, grace, dignity and courage. When friends picked her up to take her to church or to the grocery store, she insisted on paying them, even though they refused to take her money. “No, you must take it to put gas in your car – please – it will hurt my feelings if you don’t,” she’d say. And so, reluctantly, they did.

When Mom needed medical or financial forms filled out, another friend came over to help. In return, Mom would have one of her wonderful rum pound cakes hot out of the oven to present to her. A neighborhood boy who did the lawn knew he would be the recipient of a plate of warm, chocolate-chip cookies. And when another friend took her to vote, Mom insisted on taking her to lunch.

So, the photojournalist was eager to interview and photograph my mother, explaining how each woman would get two pages: One full page photo, and on the other page, a short story of her life. The book associated a defining word with each woman featured, like Freedom, Bravery, Hope, Success, Advocacy and the like.

The title of the book, Beautiful Women, Like You and Me, by Linda Lapointe and Patty Mayeau, came out in 2007, and the photo of Mom is priceless: Mom joyously laughing, in her favorite dress and wearing shiny jewelry. It truly projected her persona. The one-word title across the top of her page was “Independence,” and I thought, how appropriate.

I was doubly pleased that the author wrote about Mom’s angel collection – she had close to 50, including an angel tapestry hanging above her bed. It reminded her of the angel that appeared to her a few weeks after my Dad died, saying it was a sign that he was watching over her.

My mom recently went to join her beloved on February 29, 2016, at the age of 99. She spread her beautiful wings and flew high above the clouds – all on her very own.

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    3 Responses to “Beautiful Angel”

    1. Sue, what a beautiful and inspirational story. I enjoyed it so much.

    2. Rose Ann says:

      I was happy to read your mom had so many happy years with her husband. How special to be remembered as a lovely, gracious and independent woman.

    3. Sue Mayfield Geiger says:

      Thank you Linda and Rose Ann. I am so glad you enjoyed reading about my mom, a very special lady.

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