By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News & Eagle
Who is the most beautiful person you know? Think about it.
I asked Jim this question, and without hesitation he said that he thought it was his mother-in-law.
She is now deceased, but she had a beauty that one could hardly describe. By Hollywood standards, she would not have been classed a beauty, but she did have beautiful wavy white hair and a lovely smile.
Her beauty came from within. She had a personality that was contagious. She was a very caring person. She could carry on a conversation with anybody about anything. If she did not know the subject, she knew enough to ask intelligent questions so she could learn. It always made the other person feel important — which they were.
I am afraid Jim silently hoped that I would be like my mother, but I am not. I don’t have a tenth of the attributes that Mother had. In a few ways, I am like her, but there is no way on earth that I could have her depth of caring and the inner beauty that she developed over the years.
Beauty does not depend on the color of hair or color of eyes, or whether the person is tall or short or heavy or thin. Beauty does not depend on what the person is wearing or how they look.
Features have little to do with how beautiful a person is. Their color, or race, or background is not what makes a person exude beauty. Whether a person is ill, crippled, or healthy does not determine how beautiful a person is. Beauty is only skin deep. True beauty goes much deeper.
Probably everyone thinks their own mother is the most beautiful person in the world. Since Jim’s mother died when he was young, he never really knew a mother until he had a mother-in-law. He saw in her all the attributes of a mother. He saw compassion for others. He saw unconditional love. He saw complete devotion and caring for others. Beyond the gray hair and wrinkled face and weathered hands, there was something from deep within that made her beautiful.
Could it possibly be because she completely treated him like her own son? When she talked about “the boys,” she always meant Jim and my brother,Bill. They were always together working or playing or doing something. Once, they spent a morning riding pasture together, and when they came in from work, Mother had made a huge pot of butter beans and ham (presumably for the whole family). Well, Jim and Bill ate the entire pot of beans as if she had cooked just for them. She scurried around and cooked up something else for the rest of us, without saying one word. It was just as if she cooked it especially for them because Jim and Bill both loved butter beans — and, you know, maybe she did! She was that kind of mother.
In this day of advertising for everything — from shampoo to makeup to clothes to what one eats to what one drives — that supposedly makes for a beautiful life, it is sometimes difficult to see the real person behind all the hype. But beauty is there, or it is not there. Beauty depends on the real person within, and it depends on who is looking and what they are looking for.
I could tell you what I think makes a person pretty, but that might not be what you feel is important at all. It all is in the eyes of the beholder. Beauty to one is not even remotely pretty to the next person. Thank goodness we don’t all see the same things as beautiful or even pretty. Even the inner beauty traits are not the same to everyone. Some would think it is thoughtfulness of others, while some might think it is self-assurance that makes a person beautiful. It depends on the persons involved.
When we meet people, we do not know them until we know how they spend time. It is when a person WANTS to do what he HAS to do that character is revealed. We begin to see their spirit, the inner self, the real person.
I can speak from experience. I want to take care of Jim, because I have to be his part-time care-giver. It is a joy, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
If we look for beauty, we will find it. If we look for ugly things, we will find that, too. Inward beauty is much more important than outward beauty. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so behold!
I can still see my mother, when she was so ill in the hospital. She was pulling things with her hands. I asked Mother what she was doing, and she said, “I am making bread pudding. I know you always loved it.” Even in her last moments, she was thinking of others. I cannot make bread pudding without thinking of her. It is one of my favorite desserts, because it has such wonderful memories attached. Here is her recipe that serves about eight.
Mother’s Bread Pudding
1 cup sugar
4 cups milk
8-10 slices bread (she used homemade yeast bread, torn into chunks)
1⁄2 cup butter
1⁄2 -1 teaspoon cinnamon
two teaspoons vanilla
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
Beat eggs and sugar in large bowl. Stir in milk, torn bread, melted butter, cinnamon and vanilla. Throw in a handful of raisins or nuts if you want. Pour into large baking dish. Mix topping and sprinkle on bread pudding. Bake in low (325-degree) oven about an hour.
It is wonderful warm, just like it is, or if you want to fancy if up a little, serve it with this sauce:
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 drop yellow food coloring
Mix cornstarch and sugar. Stir in water and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and coloring.
Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.