It’s taken me a full year to write this post, but today my mom would have been 71. Seventy-one. All morning I felt as if I’ve forgotten something. ‘Isn’t it so-and-so’s birthday today?’ I thought earlier, even checking my birthday alerts on The Facebook. oh, right.
Like I said, I really wanted to somehow celebrate, or make note of what would have been a huge milestone– her 70th— last year. I thought about posting on The Facebook where people who may have known my mom might stop to remember her for a moment, but that seemed too mopey, or like I was fishing for something. Too sad, when that’s not really what I’m going for.
Last month, at the gallery opening for a show that one of my photographs was in, a woman I didn’t recognize approached me and asked if I was the artist of the photo we were standing in front of, she then told me that she knows my mother. I’m sure I looked at her as if she had eight heads, and I nearly replied “no, you don’t.” But instead, I managed to ask her how she knew my mom. It turns out that she and her husband had been neighbors of my mother, father and older brother in a town we haven’t lived in in over thirty years. She referred to my mother by the nickname only close friends would call her, and could even name our (long gone) family dog. She was legit. She told me she had recognized my last name and knew when she saw me that I had to be my mother’s child because of my resemblance to my mom. It was the sign I had been waiting over eight years for… my mother was still with me and supporting me. I knew at that moment I was right where I was supposed to be.
It can be truly difficult to celebrate someone who is missing in your life, happy memories are often too painful once recalled. I try to hold dear the gifts and legacies that remain. This photo of my mom is a favorite, I love it because it perfectly captures her “her-ness” there’s not really a better way to put it. Un-ironically, this photo is also one of the last I took with film. Just this week I’ve been thinking about pulling that old camera out of oblivion and start shooting on good old film again, maybe I should and do it in tribute to one great lady.
How do you celebrate the people that have passed in your life?