Every day I walk past the photo of mom standing in the ocean. Maybe circa 1950’s early 60’s. Hard to tell except for the bathing suit. Every day I notice the gasped expression and the beautiful red hair. Surely that water was cold and I think it surprised her at the same time.
Mom died a couple of years ago and today as I looked at the picture I realized I didn’t know her beyond being my mom. Who was she with that day at the beach? Was it my dad that took the picture? At 20 something she was a beauty. I wondered what she did in high school. Sing? Act? Did she go to a prom or help decorate for it, or was she bullied like so many kids are today?
I remember one story. Not sure it was true, but she told me she smoked pot once. Said it made her sick and very sleepy. As her daughter I never asked who she was with, why she tried it or how did she even know where to buy it. After all, mom was from a farm town in Kansas and born in the 30’s. Dust bowl they called it.
When I was 35, I was on top of the world. Everything was fun, I dated, danced, drank too much, and sailed on a private yacht with some “oil” guys. Did mom do these things too?
As children, we look at our parents as if they have only one life–to take care of us. Sex, drugs, and rock n roll were not part of their package. Or were they? Now that she’s gone I will never know the story of Joy. I will never know her favorite food, how she learned to drive a car, was she afraid to have intercourse. I will never know the feelings she had when dad gambled all the money away, or what she experienced while she was in the Air Force.
I know my mom, like yours, was great. Sure she beat the hell out of me once or twice, but I loved her. I wish I knew her better though.
Take time to talk to your parents like you talk to your friends. Go through the photos and ask about the story. Share them, write them down. Some day they may not remember, but you will. You are the keeper of your own story as well as theirs.
And if my daughter is reading this; stop long enough to know that I have a story. Ask me.