It is Mother’s Day weekend, so the topic of the day would be, of course, Mom! Everyone should write it down right now…Elaine will be in major hot water once this blog is posted. I have a mom that HATES to have her picture taken (let alone posted on a blog site for all the world to see!) This is not a new thing. There are scarcely any photos of her growing up, and only a meager amount of her as a young woman. I have a scant few, and they are precious. Yes, she has been very stealth at dodging the camera throughout most of her 70-plus years, well….through her earlier years anyhow. Once we (her children) got a little older, we started snapping photos much more frequently. Then when the grandchildren came along, she became a little more amenable to posing, as long as there was a child in the photo for her to hide behind! Without a cute, cuddly bundle of sweetness to hold, she was generally running in the other direction, hiding her face or looking away.
When I think about the non-stop, instant gratification, family photos that are taken these days with digital cameras, video cameras, smart tablets and smart phones, I feel a little cheated. I would think maybe in the late thirties and early forties that cameras were most likely a luxury that not everyone had access to. So I understand there not being a lot of photographs of her as an infant and toddler. I am pretty sure it was not until the late forties and fifties, and especially up through the early sixties that photographs became more widespread for the average person. I do know that I wish I had more photos of my parents and grandparents. Without a point of reference to look at, you tend to forget what they looked like, and the memories of them start to fade a bit.
I suppose I can relate, a little bit, to my mom’s phobia of being photographed as a younger woman. I think a lot of women go through that phase of ,”I’m not ‘done up.’ I have on these old clothes, my hair is not fixed. Do not take my picture!” I have been there…been there until quite recently actually. No willing pictures were allowed unless full makeup was in place. Heck, now a days, I do not even wear “full makeup.” On a regular, stay at home day, give me some tinted moisturizer, natural looking eye-shadow and some lipstick and I am set.
I think, once you go through the experience of cancer and see that life is more than what you look like, you tend to see things a little differently. Of course, to be honest, pictures are not my favorite thing, I do wish I was a little thinner, and sometimes I don’t really like that my eyes have retained that that trauma look from the past three years, and they are puffy, and my face is puffy, and my feet are puffy, and my body is puffy…heck, let’s just call it what it is….well, let’s not. I will just say that I am not fat, I am fluffy! Even with a little extra weight, I still look at me now and I see someone that I like. I am the exact person that God created over fifty-eight years ago and I think that I should (at least a little bit) admire His handiwork!
I say that to say that I do understand, somewhat, my mom’s aversion to having her photograph taken. A few years ago a friend (one of my adopted moms) asked me to put together a video with pictures and music that she could use during her funeral visitation. There was no immediate need for this and she is with us still this day, thank the Lord; but it was something she wanted to plan ahead and do so she could enjoy it herself. Plus, she wanted to share her version of her life as a story with her family and friends. I got to know my friend so much more as I went through her pictures and had conversations with her about them.
My mom, on the other hand, has a completely different wish. She wishes to have no photographs presented during her service. I don’t understand that point of view at all, and I told her that I just didn’t get it. So, a few days after that conversation, she hit me with a statement that made me just crazy. She told me that she had gone through all of our photo albums and had gotten rid of all of the pictures of her. Oh my goodness! What? Really? Seriously? No? First of all, I totally believed her, and second, I was truly devastated.
So, after I mulled over this turn of events for a few days, I devised my own evil plan. Her seventy-fourth birthday was in a few months. I thought, “OK, if all her pictures are gone, I am going to recreate pictures for her and create a birthday photo album that I can give her for her birthday.” Heck, everyone needs a photo album of them self and their life. I came up with this grand scheme to superimpose her face on pictures that were time-relative to the years of her life. I found a “recent” picture of her face, gray hair, glasses and all…and it was on!
I have a subscription membership to a photo site that allows unlimited downloads. I wore it out for a few weeks! First I did a search for pictures of infants that were born in 1939. I found one that was oriented so that I could superimpose her current face on it. That was my first attempt. Oh my goodness. I laughed until I cried after I finished that first one. Next, I found a photograph of a one year old child from 1940. I added her same face to that picture also. I did this all the way through her twenty-first birthday, using that same picture of her face for every one of them.
Not only did I match her actual years (1939 through 1960) with her ages (0 through 21), I also tried to match her physical characteristics. She had this amazing, crazy, curly, dark hair. I tried to find pictures that matched what her hair might have looked like at that time also. I found pictures to represent family outings, birthdays, holidays and school pictures. The older she got in these “bogus” pictures, the more I laughed, especially at those nine, ten, eleven and twelve year old pictures. It was the coolest craziest thing I’d done in a long time! Plus, she still had no clue of my secret project.
I made it all the way through her nineteenth year before she confessed to me that she really did not destroy all of her pictures. She had only taken them out of the picture albums and put them in a box. She showed them to me so that I would stop being so distraught over the loss of the photographs; because, truly, I was really sad.
Now that I think about it, as I write this blog, I am not certain that I ever confessed my intentions to create this bogus photo album to her! <EEK!> Hey mom, I still have some of the pictures, if you want to see them!
My mom is my very best friend in the world. We are extremely close and I just do not know what I would do without her in my life. She is my rock. She is the one that I know one hundred and fifty percent has my back. She and my dad come from simple means. There were no silver spoons on either side. They both worked hard for everything that they have had in life. Some of the things that she has modeled for me in life have been character, love, compassion, and a solid work ethic. She is loved by so many that she has met along the way. She did not go to work full time until we moved to Tennessee in 1979. Since that time, she has worked with, gone to church with, or come in contact with so many people. Most that meet her love her and do not soon forget her. She does make an impact!
She has had a rough go of it physically for the past couple of years. This makes me realize that life is truly short and it helps me to cherish her even more. I look back and wish so very much that I had more photographs of her…photographs of her as a child, as a teenager, as a young woman, as a young mother. I take pictures of her now with my phone that are just for me and, because of her dislike of photographs, will stay on my phone, for me.
What can we all see from this? We can see that life goes along much too fast. If you are blessed enough to have a mother that was there for you and you still have her in your life, spend time with her. Call her. Let her know that you care and that you think about her. Take pictures of her and with her and around her. Convince her to “not turn away” when the camera is out. Dang, if you ARE a mom, DON’T turn away when the camera is out. Don’t worry about your hair, or your makeup, or your clothes. Allow your children, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to have evidence in times to come that there was a special connection somewhere, that there was someone that made a difference. There was a mom!
Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I love you more than I could ever say!!
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26 ~ NIV)
“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” (Proverbs 17:6 ~ NIV)