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This pretty woman is my 80 year old mother, smiling as she is raking up leaves in her new yard in Ventura. Inside, her home is in the process of being renovated and beautified in preparation for her move-in date, hopefully really soon.

Following the death of my father, I wondered if that smile would return. It has. Not the same exact smile, for now there is a sadness in her eyes that lingers in the background…yet the smile we see is so very precious and I plan on banking each one and treasuring them all.

My Mother and Sister Teresa….not the Catholic one…but somewhat saintly with a halo, albeit a crooked and dented one, are now in my town. I am thrilled that I do not have to wonder how Mom is adjusting, I will only have to drive six miles to find out for myself. It is a relief to know that she is well cared for and secure…and smiling.

Watching my surviving parent age and seeing my own aging in the mirror every morning is disconcerting, especially when Alzheimer’s looms on the horizon. Mom is aware that her memory is not what it was and that, like her mother before her, she is facing a time when she will not recognize her own children anymore. I pray that day is a long time from now. Come on someone…surely there must be a cure for the dreaded memory stealer. I wonder if and when it will prey on my sisters and me.

For the time being, mom remains alert and vibrant. She has been more engaged since she left Oregon and is making plans, choosing her decor and going through her days with purpose…and wearing a smile. A very precious smile indeed.

The smile you see above is now safely documented and stored in my heart. I have room for any and all smiles this wonderful lady decides to bestow. And….I am willing and proud to share them.