Someone told me recently that they didn't think their mother was that pretty when she was young. Not that she was ugly, just...regular. It didn't strike me as a weird thing to say at the time, but then I thought, how could a person not think their mother was beautiful in her youth (given the fact that she wasn't, you know, a terrible person)? How could you look at an image of this woman in her few shining years, this person who brought you to life, who poured her very everything into you like dry soil, and think Eh...? This person who could have been anything, but somehow became your mother?
This, lovely readers, is my mother. Age 18, the year 1973, on a school trip to Washington DC.
I say purity and youth, yet somehow there is wisdom waiting there, behind her eyes. Do I see it simply because they are the same eyes, now wise, that I've been looking into all my life? The eyes that I once looked into as into those of a super hero, a queen? But here, those are the eyes of an 18-year-old girl. Eyes that I know so well, yet don't really know at all. A person that I look at and I know is my mother, but she's not, she wasn't.
My mother, who sewed her own wedding dress and often prefers the company of a good book to actual human beings. My mother, who won the Betty Crocker Homemakers of America contest in high school because she knew that to peel peaches you have to boil them (although she couldn't really cook at the time and had certainly never boiled peaches). Who went to Europe by herself in a time before the internet and cell phones, who denounced the Catholic church she was raised in. Who fell in love with my father at age 23 while staring at his hands in hers at some diner in Colorado. My mother, who wears her glasses on a chain around her neck, who makes a mean apple pie, who's drink of choice is Jameson on the rocks, who loves "that's what she said" jokes. Who raised 3 kids, who just became a grandmother and discovered a kind of love she didn't even know was in her.
My mother, who I am absolutely sure never realized how beautiful she really was. Is. Will always be.
My mother, who will either cry or roll her eyes when she reads this. Or, more likely, both.