Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paying for Permanence

You may lose your most valuable property through misfortune in various ways.  You may lose your house, your wife and other treasures.  But of your moko, you cannot be deprived except by death.  It will be your ornament and companion until your last day.  ~Netana Whakaari

My mother's Grace Kelly photo
As an adult myself, most of my regrets about my mother are about never knowing her as a grownup. I was right on that cusp of learning all about her past and fleshing her out as a 3 dimensional human being when she passed, so all I'm stuck with is my childhood perception of a woman whose favorite color was orange, loved to teach and to sing, and hated anything that tasted like raspberries.
I might be biased, but I think it makes an impact on your self image when you really have no archetype to guide yourself by growing up besides the airbrushed models in a magazine. Getting older now is even harder.Choosing clothing becomes an exercise in toeing the line between kosher and Cougartown. Its not like high school when you knew what not to wear. Over one hundred fellow classmates created quite the learning standard. Nowadays I just follow the rule of keeping as covered as possible while I try to keep up the New Year's resolution of exercising and eating better. And most days I wish I had my mother to talk to, because I know she would empathize with me. I imagine her growing older more gracefully than my blind man's stumble I've got going on. She had already mastered Weight Watchers, and Mary Kay, and how to apply Loving Care by the time she was my age. And thinking about this reminded me of a happy discovery many years back.
For her 43rd birthday, she got Glamour Shots done for herself as a gift. I remember this distinctly, because she was very dissatisfied with her looks and her weight. And she left for her appointment grumbling that she didn't think they'd be able to make her look any younger. I thought she looked like a movie star, and fell in love with one of the proofs that she didn't have printed. As a surprise, she had the proof copied for me and presented it to me in a frame. After she died I wanted to re-frame it and was surprised to discover an inscription on the back.

Just recently, while being dissatisfied with my own self image, I remembered about the whole thing; the pictures, her grumblings, and the gift with the surprise message on the back. I realized this would be a perfect memory to keep in my face day to day. Not only my mother's love, but her whole perception about love and beauty. Maybe I was the influence for her that made her decide that middle age wasn't as bad as she thought. Perhaps her eleven year old daughter's adoration over her looking like Grace Kelly made her feel better about herself. I'd like to hope so. And I'd like to remind myself that, every day. So, I concluded it was time to do something for myself that would make me feel beautiful, and decided to get her words inked on my arm as a tattoo. A permanent message to serve as my reminder that not only am I loved from above, but that my own daughter is watching me, and seeing, too. If anything I need to keep my eyes open and upward for her. To try and remember to see myself through her eyes. Hopefully it will help me be kinder to myself as well.
Missing my mother is an evolving beast. I've gotten over it in some areas, substituted in most, and still wallow in a personal pity party in one deep, buried, corner of my emotional closet.  Its also hard not having many tangible things to remember her by. My sentimentality about objects didn't kick in until after she was gone, so I never kept birthday cards or the little notes in my lunchbox she used to leave me. But this I can carry with me. Not just in my heart, or my memories, but as a part of me. Solid, beautiful, and permanent.

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