Monday, May 9, 2011


Today I wonder what and who my mother would be at 86 years old and realize that when it comes to matters of the life of the soul, neither past nor future matter and the living and the dead occupy equal places in our hearts. It doesn't matter that she has been dead for over thirty years or that she had so many dreams and wild imaginings locked deep in her heart that she felt that she could never share. What matters is what I know of her and the ways in which she lives in me and in my children.

When I found her wooden paint box yesterday, while going through long-closed boxes from another life, I was struck by how clean and orderly the brushes were and the care with which her painting cloth was folded. I pictured her hands caring for them, having watched those hands so many times in my life. I used to sit by her vanity-a little desk-like table, French Provencial, with a mirror on top that lifted up to reveal her cosmetics, bobby pins, cotton balls and the like. After her shower she would don her bathrobe and sit on the little padded bench, smiling her dazzling smile at her image as she checked the angles and the makeup application. I watched her cook and clean, sew and embroider, paint and draw. Always her beautiful hands moved with care and precision in whatever she did. Watching her write, her tiny slanted letters gracefully moving across the page, I noticed that she had her own way of making the cursive capitol letters, different than I was learning in school. I liked that about her, her originality, that little bit of rebellion against all of the things in her life that were so perfect...the model-thin figure, the perfect hair, the air of elegance, the long cigarette holder, the jewelry chosen just so, the impossibly slender feet in the high heeled shoes that were returned to box and tissue paper at the end of the day.

I am trying to remember her hands on me as she braided my long hair, tied the sashes of my handmade dresses, wiped my tears. I am aching to remember her voice and her smell. I wish I knew what she was thinking on those late nights with the book open and the scotch in her hand but her eyes looking out somewhere that I couldn't see.

1 comment:

annie hagar said...

Thanks for this, Ma. It's written so intimately, it makes me feel like they could be my memories of your mother.