Gracious: [grey-shuh s] adjective

Pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous. Characterized by good taste, comfort, ease, or luxury. Merciful or compassionate:

I could use so many beautiful words to describe my even more beautiful mother. But today I settled on this one: gracious.  My mother was gracious.

Pleasantly kind: Kindness oozed from her. Being her daughter or grandchild was to be enveloped in a constant blanket of kindness and tenderness. Never harsh, cruel or manipulative, she was safe, nurturing and you felt love in her presence. Always.

Benevolent: God, others, self. That was her. The first to take someone a meal or a gift. Giving of her time; whether that was with young girls (Both her own and many, many others.) or holding the hand of a young unwed mother from another country as she gave birth to a son.

Courteous: This one makes me smile. She did not even have to try to be courteous. She just was. And she taught all of us to be as well. In the clutches of Alzheimer’s, even then she remained courteous. Well, almost all the time. 🙂

Good taste, comfort, ease or luxury:  Do not confuse good taste with being modern or up to date with the latest trends. That she was not, but good taste she did have; in how she dressed, how she kept her home and how she addressed others. When you were in her presence you felt comfort. Even if you did not need comforting at that moment, you felt comfortable with her. She was disarming; a beautiful trait that my youngest has and most likely inherited from her. Never living in luxury herself, but when you were a guest in her home the experience was luxurious and you were certainly at ease.

Merciful: One of the definitions that Merriam-Webster uses for this word is, “bringing someone relief from something unpleasant”. She was good at that. In her life she had enough sorrow to be extremely merciful towards others. She was still able to show mercy to others, even into the darkness of Alzheimer’s.  It is just who she was and it was amazing to see that still come through.

Compassionate: Please do not misunderstand. She could be very compassionate, but would never jump into your “pity party”. She would listen, never judge, but then gently show you the next step to getting on with it. Or sometimes she would just say that she would pray for you.

I chose gracious to describe her today, even before I looked up the definition. But once I saw the definition, there was no doubt. She was gracious in living and even in dying. One year ago today at about 11 p.m. and with the graciousness that defined her life, she quietly, without pretense or drawing unwanted attention to herself and with the love of her life present, graciously (with ease) exited this world and entered into the presence of God.

The fundamental shift that occurred for those of us closest to her when her soul exited this world has been profound and unmatched in its impact on our lives. And while it will never be the same, she is ever present in our lives. She is the voice we hear in our minds and hearts. The way she lived her life propels us forward to do the same; even in grief. She would want us to live and grieve graciously.