Elizabeth Ann Mansfield
1928 – 2017
What was most remarkable about my Mother was her innocence.
My Mother was an INNOCENT.
In a world that ignores innocence, often makes a mockery of the innocent; a world almost perfectly designed to crush
innocence, my mother remained herself.
She was never affected by the indifference of this world, because innocence was her very nature;
it was who and what she was.
To say that she was an Innocent is not the same as saying she was naïve however.
She was not.
What she was, was trusting,
She was also an extraordinarily shy person—
there was not a single moment in my mother’s life when she wanted to draw attention to herself.
Additionally, she wanted nothing for herself…
she was a giver.
She would look at some thing; a book, an object, a picture, and say to herself, “I bet so-and-so would like that.”
And, if you were that lucky person, that thing would show up in the mail, with a little note saying,
“I thought you would enjoy this.”
She looked at everything that way—not as something that would please her,
but as something that might please someone else.
One time, almost 50 years ago, when I was in college, she saw a 1960 Dodge Coronet,
and she thought, “I bet Richard would like that.” And she bought that car for me.
It was a big weird-looking car with, quite possibly, the largest tail-fins ever sported on an American-built car,
and difficult to ignore. It was a very cool car.
She bought it, and had it put in good mechanical order, and she had new tires put on it.
And, the next time I arrived home, she handed me the keys, saying,
“I saw this car, and I thought you would enjoy it.”
I did enjoy that car. It had push-button transmission: something I have never seen since.
In fact, I loved that car, because it was a gift from my Mother.
She was an artist, and looked at the world through an artist’s eyes.
Her eyes always sparkled with the light of discovery.
She looked at this world as if it were all new to her.
There was brightness and joy and playfulness in her glance.
Recently, while Mom was in a care facility, my wonderful sister created a wall of photographs—
a dozen or so photographs of various stages of Mom’s life—pasted up where Mom could look at them and enjoy them.
And, one evening, as my Father and I were walking to the car, he said,
“Did you notice that in every single one of those photographs she was smiling?”
I told him I did.
But I noticed something else as well. I noticed that in every single one of those photographs my Mother was looking at
someone else and smiling. It might be Dad, it might be a baby she holds in her arms,
it might be one of her children or one of her grandchildren, or one of her great-grandchildren.
If you were to look at 900 photographs of my mother,
in 890 of them she would be smiling at someone else in that photograph.
It was as if, in each case, the photographer had said, “Alright everybody, look at the camera and smile…
except you Elizabeth; I want you to look at someone you love, and smile.”
My Mother was an innocent, and an absolutely unique individual.
Her innocence allowed her to enjoy her life.
And, more importantly (I think she would say)
it allowed her to offer her joy to us.
I miss you so much my very dear Mother. r. mansfield 3/11/2017