Simple beauty

Published 9:35 am Friday, July 10, 2009

It was like driving into a rural postcard.

Green fields, mostly corn and soybeans, were dotted with plump green trees along the horizon.

Fluffy white clouds hung low, making the sky somehow appear impossibly blue and reachable.

“This is the most beautiful sky I have ever seen,” she declares, touching a blue tissue to her lips.

Eighty-seven years of skies — sunsets, sunrises, tornadoes and rainbows — and this was it.

We would never see its equal.

So she drank it in. And watching her, we did too.

An almost undetectable sigh spoke more than she did about this moment.

Somehow — in between the long road trips and the chatty family dinners, raising three girls and watching grandchildren and great-grandchildren maneuver fat crayons over white paper on her small kitchen table — she had gotten old.

And despite being the optimist of the family, she wasn’t afraid to say just how she felt about the toll time was taking on her once vibrant spirit and body.

“I hate this,” she would say with a harrumph, struggling to find the volume button on her television remote. “I don’t like watching other people do my dishes or using this walker. I’m sorry I’m not more fun to be around.”

Others can see that there’s still a spark of fun there, even if she fails to recognize it in the middle of her soliloquy. There remains a sense of humor and a sly smile when she says something unexpected and waits for the appropriate response.

“Someone called me on the phone the other day to ask me what I thought of gay marriage,” she announces, daring anyone to follow up with the obvious question.

Her mind is sharp, even if the Parkinson’s is slowly eating at the rest of her.

And it’s her mind that absorbs every millisecond of this car ride in the country and that heaven above her.

She has always spotted simple beauty and pointed it out.

There were colorful posies and oddly shaped rocks, shells from faraway places, trinkets adorned with cute sayings — all lovely and worthy of mention.

And then there was this unreal sky and this hopeful woman enjoying it, reminding us of the beauty of this world and of her heart.