Last weekend when I was home visiting my parents on the Cape, I asked if they could pull out their old duffel bag of family photos so I could go through them. I loved rifling through this bag when I was a kid and I still love to as an adult. My parents always seem slightly bewildered to why I would want to spend my afternoon sifting through seemingly banal film photographs from decades past, but I love these pictures. I love seeing Donna and John before they were “Mom” and “Dad”. I love getting a glimpse of who they were before me and my brother, seeing them in the height and joy of their youth before the weight of adulthood set in.
As I sorted through hundreds of photos from my family’s past, I snapped pics here and there on my iPhone. And then a few days ago I stumbled on this article from the New York Times that perfectly put into words why these photos are so special to me:
“For daughters, these old photos of our mothers feel like both a chasm and a bridge. The woman in the picture is someone other than the woman we know. She is also exactly the person in the photo—still, right now. Finally, we see that the woman we’ve come to think of as Mom—whether she’s nurturing, or disapproving, or thoughtful, or delusional, or pestering, or supportive, or sentimental—is also a mysterious, fun, brave babe. She’s been here all this time.”
She has, hasn’t she?
So, this is my mom Donna. Beautiful, fun-loving, light-hearted, creative, strong, and hilarious Donna. The same Donna who married her high school sweetheart and moved from her hometown of Brockton down to Cape Cod. The same Donna who put herself through cosmetology school and enjoyed a long career as a hairdresser. The same Donna who endured the loss of her father, her sister, her best friend, and her mother. The same Donna who would paint the men’s toenails after they fell asleep at a party and whose glove compartment was full of Led Zeppelin 8-tracks. And of course, the same Donna who gave me life—a gift I am grateful for every day. She is my mother, and she is all these things, all these people, wrapped into one.
Cheers to you Mum, to the woman you were then, and the woman you are now—one and the same. ❤️