Sunday, August 2, 2009

WFMAD - Day Two

I've been looking forward to this time all day. The peeps are napping and Mark is washing his Ranger. No interruptions!

Random thoughts first. Mark and I watched a VH1 Countdown of the Top 100 Songs of the 80s last night. Of course, several Aerosmith songs made the cut. Joe Perry popped in his two cents about "Janie's Got a Gun, and then the VO gal mentioned that Joe Perry hawks his own brand of hot sauce. Or did at the time of the taping. Really? You are a member of one of the greatest bands of all time, and you sell hot sauce? Interesting. I would love to know the story behind that. I also discovered that in Pat Benatar's video "Love is a Battlefield," the main character (played by Pat) becomes a prostitute when she runs away from home. I always thought she ran away from home so she could be free to express herself in kooky clothes. Huh. Never put two and two together until last night. Naive, Table for One.

Today's challenge. Today's prompt is to find a photo that evokes an emotional response. A gut feeling. I chose a 3 x 5 black-and-white image of my mother in the 1950s. She's standing alone in front of elaborate, well-kept fir-tree landscaping that camouflages a brick building. A simple, white, capped-sleeved shift frames her slender body. Hands clasped behind her back, she smiles slightly at the camera. I know this smile because it's mine. It's a tight-lipped, hybrid smile, part grin/part smirk that shouts, "I am only barely tolerating this situation." Where was she and why? What was she thinking? What were her plans for the rest of that day? Who took the picture. Questions, always questions. This is what I'm thinking as I gingerly hold the picture up to the window light and peer into that forgotten world.

I chose this photo because it's probably my favorite image of my mother. A young woman, early 20s, with her whole life ahead of her. It feels strange to look at the photo and know what her life held after taking this snapshot was taken, when she had no idea. Yet, the photo conjures so many other feelings in me: sadness, anger, confusion, curiosity, pride, love, loneliness, happiness.

I lost my mother when I was five. The cancer worked swiftly. Diagnosed in July; gone October 31. I've wandered around with a black hole inside of me for 33 years. Fifty percent of my life gone, just like that. No goodbyes. No do-overs. No apologies. For a long while, many years, I couldn't name the reason for the overwhelming, unshakable emptiness that shaded even my most happiest of days. It took the wisdom that comes with age and experience to identify the source. When I became a mother a little more than two years ago, the craving to know her became stronger. I don't think I've ever missed my mother as much as I miss her now. I would give almost anything if I could see her, smell her, feel her, hug her and be hugged by her. Heck, I just want to have one valid memory of her. A memory that is mine alone, not something borrowed or created by other people's memories of her.

These things I know are true: She loved to read and travel. She had a sharp-tongue and a soft heart. She made people laugh. She was strict and impatient. She was adventurous. She was beautiful and intelligent. I am her in all those respects, and I cherish those traits.

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