Sunday, May 11, 2014

On Mother's Day, Mysterious Old Boxes, and Old Photographs

It's Mother's Day again, and while I'm still actually mourning the loss of my own mother just over a year ago, I am actually a mother myself, so I'm going to enjoy the day.  In reality it won't be any different from any other day around here.  I'll get outside in a few minutes and work on the yard (so much to do!), and later will probably throw some steaks or something on the grill.  Watch some baseball.

Yesterday I was cleaning house and trying to clear out some of the clutter around here when I came across a box of mom's things that my brother had dropped off last year.  At that time, he had been cleaning out mom's house and had been bringing truckloads of furniture and stuff to me so I could figure out where it all needed to go.  That box was one of the last things he brought and I was just worn out.  Could not deal with it.  I pushed it aside, knowing it was full of photos and some other random things, and knew it could wait.

Yesterday, when I came across the box I wondered if it was time.  I tentatively stuck my hand in the box and pulled out a folder that looked harmless enough.  As I did this I wondered if Mother's Day weekend was really the best time to go tripping down memory lane, but it was safe.  It had some photos I had taken for mom of the old family cemetery in Rapides parish and it had a copy of an old photo from the 1940s of my dad and a group of his friends sitting in a nightclub after the war.  The picture is already framed on a table in my house, so it wasn't traumatic.

Emboldened, I pulled out another folder and found some small black and white pictures of mom as a teenager with her friends at a camp on Lake Bistineau; I'd seen the photos so many times in the past and she and I had looked at them together so often that again, it was okay.  She kept them in a small white envelope so they would all stay together; she kept them in a drawer in a spool cabinet by her sofa and periodically she would pull them out and reminisce.  I took the little envelope and put them in the same drawer in the same chest that now sits in my home.

Feeling really brave now, I pulled out a brown manila envelope that held lots of photos from a wide span of years; of course I'd seen them all before, but this one picture of my mom and her parents caught my eye.  I don't recall seeing it before but I'm sure I must have.  My mother was an only child and she adored her parents.  She was spoiled rotten and was very close to them both.

I'm not sure where the picture was taken; I don't recognize the house in the background.  But I love it
because she is laughing and her dimples show  She is smartly dressed -- my grandmother spent fortunes on my mom's clothes.  I love how she has her weight balanced on one leg, one knee slightly cocked, and her arms linked through those of her parents.  The tilt of her head, the laugh, and the sun glinting off her hair -- she is forever young.

I don't remember my mom ever looking like that of course.  This picture was taken easily ten or twelve years before I was born.

But she is laughing, happy, and with her parents.  And that's how I want to remember her today.  It's almost as if she sent this photo to me on Mother's Day.  A treasure.  She is happy.  And so I stopped digging in the box.  It is enough for now.

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