Crime Scene: Everything I got from my mother, I had to steal

“Crime Scene: Everything I got from my mother, I had to steal” 24″ X 36″ mixed media on paper.

This is the photo I keep returning to when I think of my mother. So much going on here. Why is my mom wearing a skirt instead of slacks? My mom never wore skirts that I remember. The only dress I ever saw her wear was at my sister’s wedding. I’m too young in the photo to remember where or when this was taken. I’m comfortable enough sitting next to her. I’m leaning in, a little timid. Her left arm is around me but uninvolved, her fingers closed in a fist. Her pose seems relaxed, or defiant, I can’t decide which. The fingers of her right hand are loose and separated. Her legs are crossed away from me. But her face… The look on her face is a mystery. She looks right at the taker. She looks serious, sober, sad or mad.

This is the relationship I had with my mother.

Mom was always ridiculously happy, sad, or mad. Nothing was ever halfway. She died before I was old enough to really know her. I’ve been able to piece together a lot from photos and a few writings. My grandmother told me a little. My aunt gave me the crucial bit. It fits together… Why she was so angry at men. Her guilt. If only she had lived until I was old enough to hear her tell her story. I think it would have made me less fearful in life, less shy. I was a child and children are protected from the truth, aren’t they? But then they don’t know why mom runs hot and cold, lashes out, hugs so tightly yet so seldom.

Everything I now know about my mother I have cobbled together through years of analysis, comparing my moods to her behavior, guessing how she must have felt. I wish she could have told me.

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