I knew a woman a long time ago who had a way of being that I wish were in style today, but it wasn’t her clothes, the way she walked or her hairstyle. She was a beauty because she innately lived in a place of acceptance and love. She valued all people and never spoke poorly of others.

Her closest friends called her “Lou,” but her given name was Laurette. Her inner beauty was her gift, but she did have welcoming brown eyes and a voice that could soothe all, a beautiful mouth and lips and a smile that would draw you close. She loved to laugh and be playful! She was fun, and spending time with her was a gift many cherished.        

Laurette loved to read and found passion with Kahlil Gibran poems, particularly “The Prophet,” which spoke of love, marriage, children and other helpful guides to life. She read a lot, and somewhere in her readings she might have learned the importance of one’s character. I remember her quoting a famous, wise young man who once said, “The ultimate measure of a man (or woman) is not where he (or she) stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he (or she) stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Whether this message was learned or intuitive, she certainly modeled the way. 

When Laurette started falling at the age of 40 and not understanding why, when her eyes began failing, when her legs started tingling and then went numb, when her hands began to shake and then her body, she was afraid but never lost her way. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and lived with it for 15 years. She managed to continue working until she could no longer feel or battle the fatigue. After a few car accidents, it no longer made sense for her to drive.

During those years, she struggled with her mental and physical limitations but never lost her style of being selfless, giving and accepting. I find it extraordinary that she never broke stride and her character remained strong. Even when she was ready to leave this world, she remained steadfast in her love for others.   

At her late October funeral, the line formed around the building for hours, the sadness palpable. We all mourned our loss, of that smile, her voice, her love! It has been almost 25 years, and she is still with us. I guess it is love you never forget, or perhaps it was because she was my mother. Her style of acceptance in a time when it feels we are divided is her legacy, and we could all stand to pull from her playbook of life, love and acceptance for all!   

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