I woke up with you on my mind because it’s Mother’s Day. Memories have a way of becoming sweeter I think the older you get and the further away they are from reality. I found a photograph of my mother when she was probably around 15 or so. No clue as to where it was taken or the circumstance. It’s an unusual picture in that it’s a strange angle which I liked immediately that’s why it caught my eye – it was unexpected. I found this black and white window of time in a box of photos I was sifting through mindlessly as one does when you’re not looking for anything in particular; you’re just somehow doing it for no reason. Just passing time.
Mother had already left us at this point when I came across this photograph. There was no one to really ask about it. Daddy said he had never seen the photograph. Her sister and brother were long gone as well. She had no relationship with her sister, Aunt Lucille. I never knew why they didn’t speak. When I quizzed mother she would shake her head and say she didn’t know. Surely she had an inkling. Her brother, Uncle Henry who I never really knew was killed tragically on my 6th birthday; I believe it was my 6th. It could have been a year before or after. It’s all fuzzy now. That was the year I wanted a pup tent so badly I thought I would die if I didn’t get that pup tent. How or why I was focused on a pup tent is beyond me but darn it I was obsessed. What woke me up that birthday was a scream. More of a wailing scream when I go back to that day. I was puzzled and immediately unsure if I should get up or wait and see if it came again. I ended up cautiously opening my door and listening seeing if I could figure out what had happened to make someone pierce my morning birthday slumber. I heard muffled noises from the kitchen as I silently tip-toed down the stairs. My father came out and put his hands on my shoulders I knew something was horribly wrong from his ashen face. He turned me around but not before I saw my mother. She was bent over sitting in a chair at the kitchen table. Her hands in her hair. She was rocking back and forth. I tried to keep my head turned to see but my father ushered me into the living room. I don’t remember much about the day. I did get my pup tent but it seemed very insignificant at that point. I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t know why everyone was so upset but I could feel that something horrible had happened. I later found out my Uncle Henry’s wife had shot and killed him then killed herself. My mother adored my Uncle Henry. He drove this sporty little Mercedes convertible. His wife who I cannot remember her name for the life of me as I sit here in bed typing this sipping my morning coffee with Scotties scattered in various stages of napping. I don’t recall either of them. I think they were partiers of sorts which my mother was NOT. I have a very good memory of younger days so not remembering anything of them means I wasn’t exposed to them in the least. I don’t recall ever going to their home. I do remember going to my Uncles jewelry store in Lakewood Heights. Who knows – he could have been in the mafia for all I know. I remember seeing a photograph of them. His wife had jet black hair and maybe was Asian but I’m uncertain. I just know that my mother didn’t like her even though she never said she didn’t like her. It was more of a feeling on my part. How did I go down this rabbit hole? I’m rambling – sorry.
Back to this photograph- my mother was beautiful. Everyone always commented on her beauty. They surely had American Indian heritage because of the cheekbones. My mother had large brown eyes, very pale skin and lovely brown hair. Her mother was stunning. Pale skin with high cheekbones, intelligent cornflower piercing blue eyes and shiny black hair. When I see pictures of them they were so tiny waisted I wondered where their internal organs were kept. Mother grew up in Tallapoosa Ga. A large farmhouse. Wish I could find it. I’ve driven through the town on the way to Birmingham. Quaint. So many questions – no answers. Hm.
What do I remember the most on this strange mothers day of quarantine-ville? I remember your pound cakes. You always saved extra batter for me so that I could lick the bowls and blender. You never did this for my older sister because she tended to be chubby whereas I was skinny. I was the only member of our family who loved blackberry jam. You kept the jar on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator door so that I could easily find it. When you made biscuits you always made a special pan for me with petite biscuits. You didn’t do that for my older sister which may explain why she hated me for all of my childhood. Well…. I was a pesky kid sister so it was more that I’m certain. I remember the way your skin looked and felt. You were religious about your skin being soft. Morning creams nightly creams. Your hands were velvety. I never wanted to forget your skins unique fragrance.
I was so independent. Forgive me for not being the best daughter I could have been. I have no idea what you thought of me but I knew you loved me. And I loved you. I was so ready to be in the world and go do see. I wanted freedom. All you could do is watch me leave.
I am thankful for so many things you gave to me. Mainly love. I remember daddy telling me that there was another little girl before me you were thinking about adopting. For whatever reason it didn’t work out. Thankfully I was next in line.
Thanks for loving me even though I wasn’t the easiest teenager to love I’m sure. Thanks to my grandmother and Aunties who let me run free in the summers in Powder Springs at their farmhouse. Thank you to women who have played the role of mothering me through the years. You are near and dear to me.
And to my birth mother – Lydia – Thank you for loving me more than anyone.
I need more coffee.
Beautiful. I love your writing. So close to your heart and so you.