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In the eye of the beholder

It’s time to get out the winter clothes. I was transferring summer clothes into the upstairs’ closet and bringing the winter ones down. My eye fell on the ugliest article in my closet, an old, extra large, long, overstuffed polyester, tan coat with paint stains. I wondered, Should I keep it for another year? The answer is, Yes! I’m not ready to let it go.

I laughed when I saw it and thought, Now that’s an article to write about, nobody wanted that coat but me. A few years ago I found this beauty as a bargain. It was new and perfect for what I needed. I seized it before anyone could lay hands on it. I knew it would be the perfect coat to wear to the football games. It was one of those one-size-fits-all and I am sure it made me look fifty pounds heavier than I am.

In my excitement I showed it to my family and I was willing to lend it to any of my daughters. To my surprise, none of them wanted it.

“It looks like it belongs to a bag lady.”

Another one spouted her opinion about my coat. “This is the most incredibly ugly thing I ever saw,”

Another one popped off, rolling her eyes, raising her eyebrows for the others to see, “Mother, you keep it, I have a coat. I would rather freeze.”

I defended the coat, “It was a bargain and it’s going to be warm this winter.”

Apparently no one saw the beauty I saw. It wasn’t about how it looked, it was what it meant to me; it exuded comfort, warmth and it would be the perfect coat for what I needed.

I threw it on the coat rack and every time I walked out the door, through three feet of snow, to my studio, I’d wear it. On chilly days in the cold when I painted, it was perfect. Oh, I dragged my sleeves in the paints and dripped paint and coffee on the front, but that’s what was so good about it. I didn’t have to be careful, I could be myself. It was what I needed.

I took it with me to the games, just to use as a blanket. The family snickered when I packed it in. But as the air got frosty and the metal stadium seats got colder, every one wanted to wrap up in my ugly coat. They begged me for it, but I resisted. It’s mine. It’s not up for grabs any more.

This immediately brought an idea: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We usually see the beauty and usefulness of something when we need it. Otherwise, we just as soon discard it, which brings me to my heart felt prayer for my friends whose marriages are in trouble and up for grabs.

Recently I heard of four couples separating and I felt a heavy thump. Someone said they had counted over 59 divorces in Pagosa over the past year. Pagosa couples are in trouble. Al and I have had our struggles at times and I understand.

Pagosa seems to bring discontentment out in people. I don’t know if it is the cold, the mud, the lack of money or jobs, isolation and sheer boredom, or maybe just thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. All these things work against these precious marriages and family units. What about the children? Somehow along the way; the beauty in the eye of the beholder diminishes.

All the years, Al and I have had to forgive, accept each other and love in spite of each other, and I am amazed, my sweet Al still sees me beautiful. The wrinkles in my face, my bending posture, my flannel gown and that old bag-lady coat doesn’t seem so important.

He still sees me as I was in my youth. He thinks I should wear my hair in a ducktail like I did when I was 17; three-inch heels to accentuate my ankles; short skirts and tanned legs with bright toenail polish. I just roll my eyes and think, “Oh Al, you have the most beautiful heart, you only see me beautiful.”

There is something predictable about Al and me. We do not see age creeping up; we see love, warmth, comfort and perfect companionship. And no, I’m not wearing three inch heels in three feet of snow or mini skirts with my white legs. I still throw on that ugly coat, but when evening comes and we are together, it makes it alright.

How do couples get into trouble? Do they need to look back to those days when their eyes looked on that one that was young, beautiful and full of life? That one who made them laugh; and brought the best out of them. Have they just lost sight of their first love?

And, maybe I am meddling, I hope not, but my heart is heavy for you, my friends. Is it possible we need to take a look at ourselves and at our children? Don’t put your marriage up for grabs, you do not know who might end up with your treasure and raise your children. Think again. It will truly be a cold winter.

Final brushstroke: There is nothing wrong with your mate that a loving heart can’t fix. Maybe ugly has crept into your heart and you can’t see the treasure in front of you.

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Artist’s quote

“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step of overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.”