The most beautiful woman in the world

My mother started going grey when she was very young. By the time I was no more than five years old, there were already strands of silver in her black curls. To my young eyes, they shone. So too did my mother’s smile, full of warmth and love and kindness, the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.

She has always believed in me, even when I have found it impossible to believe in myself. Every certificate and ribbon I brought home as a child was celebrated as though it was the highest honour attainable. She was in the audience during every debate and every speech night, clapping encouragingly when my name was called. She listened to me sing and play the piano haltingly for her as though she was being treated to a world class performance. She still boasts about me, her eldest child, to her friends, treasuring my accomplishments far more than her own hard-won achievements. She is my stalwart supporter and loyal friend, always ready with words of encouragement and praise when I can find none within myself.

People have called her voice musical, but it is nothing compared to her laugh, which rings with joy and good cheer and warms my heart whenever I hear it. I love few things more than making my mother laugh. It never stops feeling like a noble thing to do. For a woman who has weathered many storms and struggles, she is still so quick to smile and make merry, and to encourage high spirits in others. I have never seen my mother stand back or remain silent in the face of a friend’s dismay. She is always the first to offer a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on. She gives of herself freely and unreservedly, putting the world before herself and never begrudging anyone.

My mother is almost fifty years old (may she forgive me for revealing this) but retains the soul of the young, lively woman she was when I was a child. She is still vivacious, light-hearted, much more fond of jokes and frivolity than she ever has been of serious things. And yet, in my times of greatest need, she has been my rock, my safe port in a storm. I am almost twenty-four years old and she has never stopped caring for me with the tenderness and affection she showed when I was newly born. She has weathered my temper tantrums and outbursts, held me as I cried, stayed by my bedside when I was sick, dropped everything to tend to me when I’ve been hurt. She has never wavered, never decided that I’m old enough not to need her care any more. I still call her almost every day; she still visits when I’m ill and checks up on me when my depression drags me down.

My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world. Perhaps you cannot see it, but if so, you are merely not looking close enough. Look at the tiny lines and creases on her face, relics of smiles and laughter. Look at the warmth and love in her eyes. Look at her heart, which has room enough for the world and then some to spare. I have always known it and will always know it; I will never be convinced otherwise. I have seen many beautiful women and will see many more, but none of them will ever equal my mother in grace or kindness or love or generosity. She is truly the most beautiful woman who has ever lived. I love her, and I am so blessed to have her.

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