Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Every picture tells a story/every story has a picture

for my mother

Tomorrow is my mother's 75th.birthday.She taught me (among other things)the importance of recording visual memories,sharing oral histories and sporting a good hairdo... 
my mother and father Ocean City NJ

It always started with the snapshots.
You may know the kind-
Old black and white glossies with white borders.

My mother had a story for each photo.
“I weighed 90 pounds when I married your father.I graduated in June and we got married in October.”
And there she was,in the lacy gown with fitted bodice,
Peeking out from under her veil and shoulder length pin curled hair.
A full foot taller, the groom with the shiny  pompadour
They made a lovely wedding cake topper couple.
“Every night I would dry set my hair in pin curls.”

Always that pin curled hair.                                                 
In snapshots
On the beach.
At holidays.
Even in snapshots
From the Depression.

Aunt Carol would pull out the home movie screen and projector
Set up the reels
Of grainy black and white memories.

First,the baby years.
My mother with her meticulously pin curled hair
In sweater,loafers,long woolen skirt and apron.
I was propped up in the chair.
The scratchy,mohair chair.
“Your Grandmother made that dress for you.It was lavender organdy.I had to starch it and all of those petticoats. And I always had an extra pair of shoelaces for your baby shoes.Every night I would change your laces and scrub the pair that you had worn.Then I would polish your shoes.”

My mother scrubbed,bleached,washed and starched my entire childhood.
And my sister’s.
And my brother’s.
my first Christmas

Years ticked by,
The black and white memories                           Became color collages
Of life.

My mother went to work.
Hot rollers in the early morning
Replaced the night time pin curl ritual.
Polyester and the clothes dryer
Replaced my mother’s need to starch and press.

My mother encouraged my creativity
At her prompting,
I went to design school in New York.
She and my father would drive to Brooklyn
 To visit me and Manhattan.
Every trip over the Verrazano-Narrows bridge
My mother said, “This is the bridge from the opening scene of "Welcome back, Kotter".

With permed hair,giant bug-eyed glasses
Polariod slung over her shoulder,
My mother recorded
the Twin Towers,
the Statute of Liberty
And my friend,Greer.
Greer was my first friend at school .
Pre-op transsexual son of a minister.
When I told my mother that I thought Greer used to be a boy, her response was ,"That’s nice.I’m glad you’re making friends."

Years flew past
My father died
My siblings and I left home.
My mother decided to move South.

The day I went to help her load up the moving van
And say farewell to our house,
My mother handed me an Easy Spirit shoebox.
“Here,I thought you might want these.I have some for your brother and sister,too.”

Inside the shoebox were
Black and white snapshots,
Colorful Polariods
And Instamatic memories.

Inside the shoebox were our stories.
me and my mother
my son and my mother Oaxaca Mexico


1 comment:

  1. This is the best post ever. And your mother is one of the best ever! Happy Birthday Paula and many many more!