Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Mother in Two Photographs

cassatt_mother-child_pastelJust something I thought I would share:

My Mother in Two Photographs

I call the first photo “the glamour shot.” It’s my mother at 18 and visiting from college. She selected this photo and wanted me to use it in class. I almost thought about using something else and then realized that it tells more about her than I could. There she is with her cousin on the left and her sister on the right and she looks queenly, almost preening. The one thing I’m struck by is how much older she looks than 18. Maybe being the oldest of five children does that to you.

I wanted to use the photo of her as a seven-year-old, with a big scab on her nose and her hair wild behind a barrette. It looks nothing like my mother with those dark eyes filled with expectation of excitement to come. She looks so fun, as if she can barely sit still for the school picture. And that is so not my mother. She didn’t want me using that picture.

The other picture she wanted to give me was when she won “Sports Queen” in high school. My mother has always wanted to control how she’s portrayed by other people, conscious to tell me how pretty and popular she was when she was younger.

The second photo is of my mother at my wedding. Coincidentally, she’s sitting next to her sister in the previous photo. She would always tell me that her biggest fear would be that I would turn out like her sister, fat, unpopular and unattractive to men. Although my aunt has been married three times, that’s her last husband you can’t see very well in the picture and they’ve been married 25 years. Incidentally, my mom is now fat, too.

No comments: