The Many Faces of Momma
My momma had many facets. Many faces, too. As we approach this day--the first Mother's Day I face without her--I want to (finally!) share her many faces with you.
See, I need a way to celebrate her, to be close to her. It helps to make the day still very special, and more bearable.
It's all too easy to make those no longer with us out to be perfect. It's easy to forget when they struggled. But mom's struggles taught me a pivotal lesson...
While our hardships serve us with challenges, they also give us a choice: through them we can choose to be bitter or we can choose to be better. Choosing--well, trying really hard--to be better has kept me going, and definitely kept me writing, these past six weeks without her.
Momma will forever be very much "alive" to me. But in my writing she'll always be a character. So in addition to sharing her with you, I'm taking this opportunity to dedicate my writing to her. My talent is truly what I have. And I just prefer giving what I have back to her. Thank you for being so very good to me through this time, in return it gives me so much joy to share with you the many faces of my smart, sweet and silly momma. Click on any of the pics to enlarge them to full size...or view a video of them at the end of the post.
Smiling-for-the-judges momma: Here she is as a kid (at 6) in a beauty pageant--isn't she a beauty? I love this shot capturing her as she's just starting out her life's journey, all full of bounce and innocence. If you click to enlarge the picture you'll see the number they tagged her for the pageant was "20." That suits me just fine given, on a scale from 1 to 10, she was truly a 20.
Winning momma: This shot of her hollering (in her late 30s/early 40s) is the happiest moment of her life and I am beyond grateful to forever have a record of this face. At this exact moment she learned she'd won the election--she has so many emotions going on her face doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. With zero political experience, she possessed a passion which drove her to win Deputy Mayor against a 7-year incumbent and the honor of being the first woman EVER elected to the role. That was impressive enough to land her an invite to Reagan's inauguration (yeah, you have to be invited to those events). She's wearing a Philadelphia Eagles shirt because many from the team were there to support her as we lived near Philly at the time.
Swimming momma: Ah, the underwater shot. This is my MOST favorite shot of her (in her late 40s). No, not because it's silly, but because of the story behind it. You see, we had a robbery earlier that year and momma said, "Here's the way I see it: with the insurance money we can either buy new silver and replace my jewelery...which could be stolen again...or we can go on a cruise--and they can never steal those memories." So we went to The Bahamas, baby! To the scoundrels who have our silver and gems, I say: thanks a million for the memories.
Swinging momma: Here we have mom (in her mid 50s) swinging with with her oldest daughter --my beautiful sister Melissa--two days before Melissa's wedding in the South of France. Enlarge it to see momma giggling on the swing set with her daughter. Apparently mom was going through a "blonde" phase at the time (a phase lasting about two years). Melissa, this one is really for you: you've been a rock for your sister through all of this. You make me better and, while you received much from our mom, most of all you inherited her generosity. Believe it.
Charming momma: Here's momma talkin' up Joe DiMaggio (believe she's in her early 40s). I can see it now, she's working to engage Joe around one of her many causes while getting his autograph. What a charmer, right? Yeah I learned from the best ;-).
Classic momma: The last shot below (in her early 50s) is "classic mom." It's mom at her most radiant and is the face that comes most to mind when my sister and I think of her. Melissa sees momma in her dreams, but I've not yet seen her in mine. Maybe one day.
I'll end with a few words for her: Momma, thank you for teaching me that people--all people, from all walks of life--are so very much worth getting to know. That inspiring people is what gives us our humanity. And that when we listen to others we're not only learning from them, it is in those moments that we're most respecting them. It is a magnificent honor to have known you, to be of you, to miss your many faces...and to dedicate my writing to you. Happy Mother's Day, from both your girls.
P.S.: If you ever miss my momma's faces don't you worry, this dedication is forever available on my blog's side rail (otherwise I would miss her too much).
Update (05.27.07): Many kind bloggers (I should just say friends who also happen to blog) paid a tribute to momma and planted a tree in NYC to honor her--which I call "momma tree!" It's a beautiful tribute, and you can read about it here.