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I found myself reaching for the fancy plate yesterday morning. It’s a hand-painted earthenware plate I fell in love with years ago when my daughter worked at an upscale home store and I was waiting for her to finish her shift one evening. It was in the clearance section, still a luxury, too fancy, but with her employee discount, I surrendered. There is something bright and cheery and special about the yellow and red raised flowers. It’s a small plate, actually a salad plate I suppose, but I’ve treasured it since I bought it.

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So why was I reaching for it now? Why did I feel the need for something special, something bright and comforting? I’ve been doing OK, finding the OK in 2020, making myself turn the pages of my 14,000 Things To Be Happy About book each morning.

But yesterday morning, I felt fragile. Things had simply caught up with me. 

It’s almost my mom’s birthday, and I smiled at the rainy, windy weather she loved so much and had ingrained a love in me for it as well. I watched the leaves cascading in oranges and reds from the tree in our back yard and it was perfect. I wanted to call her and talk to her, just hear her voice and ask her how she’s doing and what she thinks about the virus. My mom was always an upbeat woman, a finder of silver linings, a creator of peace in the middle of chaos. She was a smiler.

When my father passed away on my husband’s 24th birthday, I was so worried that John’s birthday would always be a horrible reminder of my father’s final day on earth. I wanted to apologize for having made a cake and celebrated with our little family before hearing the news. But my mom smiled at me and said how wonderful it was that we would always have something to celebrate on June 29th, and that John’s birthday would always take some of the hurt away.

RELATED: Living Without My Dad Never Gets Easier

The woman worked magic. Even when she was in the nursing home and her memory was so very faulty, she smiled and talked with the other residents, held my hand as we watched a purple sunset, and fussed at me to go home because John was waiting for me.

I need her wisdom, her calm, her smile. 

Some days I just want to rest my head on her shoulder instead of forcing myself to face the turmoil and uncertainty and fears that keep me awake at night and color the weariness in my days.

So yesterday, I reached for the plate, my little reminder of better days to come. I rubbed my fingers over the raised flowers and turned it over to look for the name of the design. It had been there all along, but I had never searched for it. In small block letters, it proclaims what the plate has meant to me all along.

GRACE.

And it means the peace of God given to the restless; the spirit of God operating in humans to strengthen them.

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The tears flowed as I smiled. Somehow, I sensed my mom’s hand in all of this, ushering in the good she consistently proved can come from any trial. She’s with me, encouraging me to spread her strength and love just as she did.

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Vicki Bahr

I'm a mother of four, grandmother of nine, wife of John for fifty years, an incurable optimist, word lover, and story sharer. I've worked and played at many careers, from proofreader to preschool teacher, businesswoman to human interest newspaper columnist to medical records clerk. Each path has afforded me the opportunity to appreciate the warmth of humanity and to hopefully spread a lifetime of smiles, empathy, and God's inspiration along the way. My life continues to be one of delight. With experience comes understanding, with understanding comes peace.

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