Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thoughts of my mamá

This morning awoke dreary and wintery and bitterly cold.  I'm listening to some upbeat Latin music in hopes of not letting the grayness of the day get my spirits down.  I can't help but think of my mother on days like today. When memories flash through my mind of my childhood, they are usually accompanied by a soundtrack of echoing music drifting from the kitchen where my mother cheerfully cooked and cleaned and worked.  

On my birthday this year my mom called and left a message on my answering machine wishing me a happy birthday saying, "This is our day to celebrate.  It's yours and it's mine.  Your first day into this world was a journey for both us."

As I thought about this, I thought of  the 9 months of pregnancy with her seventh child, with her six other children being under the age of nine.  Far from her home and family, and braving the oppressive Puerto Rican heat and humidity, I can only imagine what it must have been like.  Then came the 31 years after that of unrelenting service and love that she has given me.  Yes, my birthday is just as much her day as it is mine.  But oddly (and sadly) enough, I had never realized that before.

The older I get, the more I realize that every time I look in the mirror, I feel like I'm seeing my mother staring back at me in my reflection.  I remember my mom saying the same of her own resemblance to her mother but never comprehended what it would be like when the cycle repeated itself.

The other night I stayed up until almost midnight bustling around organizing and labeling to my little OCD heart's content.  I thought of my mother, remembering her bustling around in the same way, and how she taught me a love for organization and cleanliness.  I felt a tender closeness to her as I worked while everyone in the house slept.

As I prepared for bed, I removed my make-up and listened to my eyes squeak as I rubbed back and forth.  To date my eyes and my mother's eyes are the only ones I know of who squeak when they are rubbed late at night.

As I scrubbed potatoes in the sink on Saturday morning, I looked down at my hands and thought to myself, "When did my hands start looking so much like my mother's?" (minus the pearly finger nail polish)

I thought of the swimming suit I bought this summer.  It was black with white diagonal stripes across the v-shaped front.  It was almost identical to my mother's favorite swimming suit that I always remember her wearing.  I'm still not sure if it was the same swimming suit all those years or if she just had a habit of buying black suits with white stripes.

And then there are those things within myself that are less apparent to others, but with a crystal clear resemblance to my mother- like my love for social gatherings, but a need to withdraw into myself on a regular basis to have some alone time in my head. 

It's mornings like this that I think of the scripture in Malachi, "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers."  That turning of the hearts isn't always steady or predictable, but for me it especially comes on days when I need to reach back into the past to get me through today.

On Saturday I completed a photography mentorship with a local photographer. As we talked about branding, she said that a person's professional brand often comes from their own personal mantras.  As she asked what mine were, I told her of my love for photography that shows timelessness.  I've come to believe that time doesn't progress in a linear path.  So much of who we are is affected by where we came from and what we hope to become, rather than just the present.  Maybe time moves in more of an elliptical pattern, vascillating forwards and then sometimes reaching backwards, but always in motion.

As I bustled around cleaning and organizing the other night, and as I felt that surge of satisfaction, it felt as though time had dipped a few decades back as I relished one of the same things that I remember seeing my own mother find so much joy in.  And just like my birthday, the joy I felt was not only my own- it was hers and it was mine.


Cristina said...

Such a great tribute to mom~ I loved it! You two are a lot a like, in a good way :) And of course, you two even get to shop in your own section of the store...the petite section :) Ha, ha, we'll never let you forget that day!

Sylvia Bunker said...

Beautiful post. Familia bella. Gracias por compartirlo.

AllisonK said...

So much about this to love! I adore your mother and her birthday insight is so true. I will have to contemplate on this a little more. I love that you are up late cleaning and organizing. Another late night girl here. As for the squeaky eyes, mine squeak when rubbed as do my mothers. I don't know about Sylvia. It drives my children crazy. So much to love! Wonderful tribute!

Rita said...

Psssh... the petite section is really just the shorty section of the store. And by the way, I'm proud to say that some of the things in the petite section are too short on me. Yay!

Rita said...

How funny! Glad to know I'm not the only squeaky-eyed freak out there! (Not that you're a freak, but sometimes I feel like one when they squeak so loud) I wonder how many women around the world use the hours between 9pm and 1am to get most of their personal projects done.

Rita said...

Gracias, Sylvia. You have a beautiful family as well!

Anonymous said...

Rita: thank you for all the expressions of love for your mother. Love, DAD