My Mother’s Face

After my father died, I found this photo in his bedroom. It was leaning against the mirror of the vanity where my mother had sat painting her nails in a room dark except for the small lamp, her red nails gleaming in the dim light. She painted them with half moons, her touch was that fine.

The photo was in a cheap frame from our Ben Franklin store. I knew from having worked there for years that the frame came from the counter between the greeting cards and housewares. It was probably 79 cents or maybe $1.29, When a price ends in a 9, my dad said, people don’t realize they are spending more. This was his wisdom and I’ve remembered it.

I’d never seen the picture before.

Because we were there in his house to take the things that had meaning to us, I took this picture. I also took the bedroom furniture and my father’s minnow bucket. I didn’t take the toaster even though I needed one at the time because it had no meaning to me and I didn’t want to think to myself that I so needed a toaster that I would take it from my dead father’s house. Taking the picture was another matter. It meant something.

It was the image of my mother that my father loved most.

He took it from wherever it was kept before she died, a bottom drawer, an old scrapbook, and he framed it and put it on the vanity in their bedroom where he was now sleeping alone.

Today I slipped the old photo out of its dime store frame to put it in a sturdier frame I’d found. On the back was her perfect handwriting; she always labeled every photograph, with her name and the date, 1946. This was my mother two years before I was born. Her open, beautiful face and her glance of a smile. She is unadorned and so lovely, so unknowingly lovely.

No wonder he loved her so.

I wouldn’t have known this had he not left the picture there on the vanity.

My mother’s face.

23 Comments on “My Mother’s Face

  1. What an intimate and touching post. I dare say your mother’s spirit may very well have guided your selection of her beautiful portrait as the most meaningful momento to choose to reclaim that day. She might even have been poised over your shoulder with that same delicate smile pictured, as your heart’s words so lovingly spilled these tender and adoring rememberances of her. As a mother of young children, I try to savour every minute of life with them as is possible, BUT, what a heart smile it would give me (and probably any mother) to be remembered so fondly by her child(ren) when that time inevitably comes…a long ways away God-willing. As far from heaven as it may seem we are down here, how reassuring it is to know are loved ones are near in precious pictures, hovering tangible in the blink of our mind’s eye, and closer still in our hearts embrace and loving recollections.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You reminded me of when women would pin their hair — put it in pin curls at night, pin it back, put it in a french twist. Bobby pins and hairpins. What a nice memory.


  2. Smart and sexy, she looks. You look like her. There’s a new series on PBS, My Mother and Other Strangers, and I love it for the title, because the more we get to know about our mothers, the more we know how little we understood about them, in our own inevitable deep selfishness that makes her My Mom, and not…that stranger, smart and sexy and…

    Liked by 2 people

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