Creating in the Crucible

Often we reflect upon the values we learned from our wives, husbands, fathers and mothers AFTER they leave us for their heavenly home. Perhaps we should appreciate their worth more—before they’re gone.

My mom has sketched with charcoal and dabbled with oils for as long as I can remember. She still chides me about testing her wet canvases with pudgy fingers to see if they were dry. As a kid, I never met an unattended palette or picture that I didn’t “accidentally” touch. This is the closest I ever came to being an artist.

Mom spent her childhood studying landscapes and sunsets around the Sulfur Bank Mine near Clear Lake, California. Her father maintained drilling equipment deep in the mercury mine, and little “Elle” lived with her parents in a shotgun house on miners’ row. Her mother hired tutors to teach her to tap dance and play piano.

In her late teens, Mom and her parents moved to Long Beach where she fell in love. A daughter came, and her marriage didn’t last. In the 1940s, my mother gave her toddler daughter to a relative for a time while she served her country in the Women’s Army Corps—she never got her child back.

Her mind touches this 70-year-old scar tenderly sometimes.

Nothing in Mom’s life has been uncomplicated or feather soft. Mom will be 93 in January, and her strange and eventful life is teaching me that gifts from God (artistic abilities, vocations, skills, and ambitions) shine the brightest when nurtured in the crucible of hard times.

Light Among Titans

Creativity in the middle of crises unveiled and strengthened my mother’s heart. In every stroke of her paint brush wisdom, perseverance, and unconditional love pulse before our eyes.

Why not tell your loved ones how much you value their gifts? Don’t wait to eulogize. Tell them face to face.


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