Monday, November 25, 2013

Two Boy Inside Their Mother 1985

Two years before I became a mother, I listened as my husband and one of his closest friends discussed their complicated relationships with their mothers. They were working hard at trying to understand this most basic and important connection that each had with mothers that were not always able or accessible. The photo underlying this piece is of the two of them standing side-by-side, and in the final, painted image you can see their two arms below the mother's breasts, while the rest of the photo is painted over as the nude figure of the mother with the potted cactus in the background.

My mother will be 85 in December and has some memory loss.  Not enough to keep her from living alone with her dog, Abby, but enough that she has to write down just about everything in order to stay on top of things. Recently I found a note (in her handwriting) near the computer reminding her to push the button and hold it down to turn it on, and not to ask my brother again.  It broke my heart to find the note, and then something in me shifted.  Before reading it, though I could act kindly, I was often put out with my mother for not being the person she had been when I was younger--smart, organized, terrifically capable.  After reading the note, I felt a kind of compassion and empathy for her that I hadn't  felt before.  I think that reading that note allowed me to finish the long process of separating from my mother, which in turn has allowed me to see and love her for the person she really is.  I am kinder now when we talk, not as pushy and impatient about trying to "help" her out.  Our conversations often end in laughter, and always with an "I love you" from both ends of the phone.

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