It’s hard to write about my mom. I feel like words can’t even begin to describe how much of a good mother she was or how much I loved her. But, here, I will try.

When I was little, I remember my mom used to tell me, “Pretty is as pretty does.” I was so young when she first said this to me, I didn’t quite understand what it meant.

She was born in Illinois in 1921 and was given the name of “Sarah Katherine” but at some point she changed the spelling to “Sara Kathryn.” Back then it was common to be born at home and so my grandmother gave birth to all four of her children at home. My mother, her second child, along with her sister and two brothers, grew up during the depression. She told me that they were so poor that for Christmas all they would get would be an orange and maybe a homemade toy or doll.

Mom with her baby sister and older brother:

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Mom with her younger sister and younger brother and their billy goat:

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They moved to Indiana sometime during her childhood and she graduated from high school in 1938.

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It was there at Cloverdale High School that she met my dad. They fell in love and got married in 1941, three years after they graduated from high school.

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They had six kids, of which I was the 5th!

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Mom and me, Easter 1956 🙂

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Growing up I remember she watched lots and lots of kids; some for weeks at a time. People would come pick their kids up and not even pay her because they didn’t have enough money. I remember one summer she watched 3 or 4 kids from one family for the whole summer and when the dad came to pick them up he only gave my mom $20.

My mom would kneel at her bed at night to pray and get up early in the morning to read her bible.  I remember we lived on Hickory Lane in Indianapolis; she would sit alone in our tiny kitchen nook just off the kitchen. I remember her sitting there in that little room, with the yellow ruffled curtains, and the smell of black coffee. If any of us kids would get up too early she would tell us to go back to bed! I remember one morning in particular I stood there watching her and wanting her attention so I said something mean to try to get it. It worked but not in the way I had wanted. It would be years later until I would understand why she needed that alone time and quiet time with the Lord.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

My mom worked so hard just taking care of us and the all the kids she babysit. I remember piles of laundry in the basement and wondering how there was so much of it. She’d be exhausted just from looking after us, let alone trying to keep the house clean or keep up with the laundry. If she ever sat down to watch TV she usually fell asleep from exhaustion. She teased and said that her eyelids were attached to her knees and if she sat down and bent her knees her eyelids would close so she’d fall asleep!

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She took pride in making her dollar stretch at the grocery. To save money she’d buy a gallon of whole milk and then mix it with powered milk to make it into two gallons.  She’d also go to several grocery stores each week just to get the best prices. My dad worked at White Castle as an office supervisor, and he’d bring home boxes of slightly outdated frozen White Castle hamburger patties. My mom would make all sorts of different meals out of them; basically anything that called for ground beef. She actually could make something out of almost anything and it always tasted good. All except liver and onions. I’d skip that and settle for something like peanut butter and jelly. Actually one of my favorite snacks is a banana with peanut butter, which was one of my moms favorite snacks too.

My mom was a lot like her mom, my grandma. Some of my favorite memories were of us going to my grandma’s house to spend time with her and for family dinners. My grandma made the best rubarb pie in the world!  My grandma used to tell me that she prayed for me, and I’m so thankful for her and her prayers.  I loved her so much.

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My mom had a natural love for her family but more than that, she had the love of Jesus in her heart. I wasn’t exactly the perfect child but she loved me unconditionally. There wasn’t anything I could do or say to make her not love me. She made a difference in my life and in the lives of so many people she came in contact with. She was always thinking of others first. She’d make sure everyone else’s needs were met before her own. She had compassion and love for hurting people. She’d fix meals for people at church and she’d help strangers in need. I remember her making sandwiches and giving them to poor people.  She treated them with love and respect. She had such a gentle, sweet and giving spirit.

Later in life my mom continued with that same gentle and sweet spirit and continued to help all of her grown children and grandchildren as much as she could. She’d cook big meals and was always looking forward to the next family get-together. She would do anything and everything she could for any one of us.

Mom in her basement on McFarland Rd with five of her grandkids Christmas 1986:

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She lived the last 20 years of her life as a widow and spent most of the last 10 of those years suffering from the effects of early onset Alzheimer’s. I was glad she was able to come and live with and near me for part of those latter years. Even though the disease affected her personality and her memory, I was happy just to just be near her and to spend time with her.

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Here’s some pics from our last couple of family Christmas get-togethers:

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Our last family get-together was in January of 1998 in Vincennes, Indiana. We took photos all together, one right after the next, in hopes of catching her old familiar smile.   But the raveges of Alzheimer’s had taken it’s course and she could no longer smile; nor walk or talk.  She was ready to go home.  See passed from this life on earth to her heavenly home on September 15, 1998 at age 77.  I was able to be there along with my sister and brother to read some bible verses to her, pray and hold her hand as her soul passed into  heaven to be with the Lord.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.                 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

I choose not to post the photos from January of 1998.  Instead I prefer to remember my mom the way she was for the greater part of her life here on earth. My mother was a pretty lady by any standards and even in today’s world where so much emphasis is put on outward appearance, it was her beauty that radiated from within that will be her legacy. My mom lived her life, simply put, with love for God and her family. And even though I didn’t understand it as a child,  I came to learn the meaning of “Pretty is as pretty does.” because of my mom and the way she lived her life.

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People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

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8 thoughts on “Pretty is as Pretty Does.

  1. I love your story about your beautiful mom. When I write beautiful it is clear she had the beauty of the soul, mind and spirit not just her outward appearance. Bless you Elaine and all our mom’s in heaven. Sandy

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    1. Thanks Sandy 🌹 I tried to convey that as much as possible because that is what I believe we really remember about our moms – the beauty from inside. Blessings to you and your sweet family as well 🙏🏻

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    1. Thanks Lisa 🌸 People used to tell me that all the time when I was young and when we both had dark hair. Now my hair is as white as hers was so now I’m back to looking like her again. 😊

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  2. What a beautiful story of your Mom. You could be a writer! Loved it. I remember your old house. I know your mom was a sweet person because she shines in you!

    Liked by 1 person

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