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Her beauty came from within

Thirty-three years ago tomorrow, my mom lost her battle with cancer. That it was a difficult life-altering experience for our small family was then and remains today obvious. She was the centerpiece around which we all revolved. She provided the love we may all have taken for granted. I was working at The Tuscaloosa News at the time and penned these words. They are selfish, written more for me than anyone else, and they have appeared the week of Mother’s Day each year since.

They are shared again here today for three reasons. One is as an annual tribute to her and to all mothers on this special occasion. Another is to add my own personal touch to our community’s meaningful recent Relay for Life effort. And finally, they are offered with hope they evoke an important memory in your life or encourage you to pause and reflect about a person or a moment who or that has meant much to you.

Death came knocking at a nearby door the other day.

It was a Friday, minutes before 3 p.m. and a time I'll never forget.

The feeling of sudden emptiness tore deep at my insides, grinding away at my every thought and even though the silent, endless sleep had been expected for some time, the pain was still so very real.

Mom left us that sunny day, bowing to a long, often agonizing, ordeal with cancer. And the why of it all will forever remain a mystery to me.

I died a little myself, I suppose, with each delayed breath, each muffled sigh over those final days of confinement as she courageously battled the odds with a furious will to live.

I knew it couldn't last, just as I knew there was nothing I could do to help.

And yet, there was a beauty to it all, I think, for amid the tangle of needles, tubes, tape and wilting roses on a windowsill nearby, we became even closer than ever before, allowing me one more cherished memory of her life.

Mom wasn't fancy, you see.

There were few frills in her makeup. She was not gifted with the eloquent speech of a polished politician. She did not have the education of a scholar. She did not possess great monetary wealth. And she was not a raving beauty, though she was a true example of beauty from within.

Still, she was special, not ordinary at all.

She managed to mix a bit of each of those characteristics with an unending love for her fellow man, doing the best she could at whatever the task.

She was just people, though, the good old, hard-working type who did her very best at making this place a better place. And she did. That's the thing about her that makes me most proud.

After all, isn't that what life is all about?

It isn't the money you have or the prestige you wield. It isn't who wins the most games, scores the most points, owns the biggest house or drives the fanciest car.

Life is people and friends and doing the things that make those friendships possible.

How unfortunate it is that we have to be reminded in such a seemingly cruel way, but how fortunate it is we can be reminded.

So mom is gone for now, though the pleasantries of her life do remain.

We'll meet again one day, I hope, and I'll be all the better for it because she'll have more with which to share.

God bless you sweet ladyŠand thank you for the privilege of being your son.

Ed Darling is president and publisher of Greenville Newspapers LLC. He can be reached at 382-3111 or ed.darling@greenvilleadvocate.com.