Something extraordinary happened when I went to write this post. I started going back through my family photo albums, and I was astonished to discover that I have almost no pictures of my mom. This presented somewhat of a problem for a photo-exposé of all of the things that I love about her. But, as it turned out, it clarifies that what I am most impressed by and what I hope to emulate is her character.
I don’t have pictures of my mom because she was always the one behind the camera. Not only was she was making sure that her children were taken care of (including that memories were captured), but she was living life fully: painting, gardening, planning adventures. No time for pictures! No time (often) to get dressed up. (My mom didn’t start wearing makeup until she turned 40! She didn’t need it.) My mom taught me that life is for the living. That we make the best of what we have every day (which she learned from her mother). Whether canning produce from her garden, filling the house with cut flowers from her perennials, reading to her four girls, or showing us that a full life requires continuous learning (this is the woman who taught herself to paint at the age of 30 and went to graduate school at the age of 45), as I look back I remember that every moment was full and then some.
Never in the limelight, but (almost) always properly loved and appreciated, it’s now through her eyes that I see and remember my childhood. When I look back over the photos of my life, what I see is her view: her amusement, her perspective, and her handwriting. Each picture in my photo album is lovingly marked: “Emily.” These are her eyes. And I love them.