from the past

Papa's cool gaze catches my eye. He is thinner than I ever knew him to be. I look at that half smile, the one I saw so often, and tears play at the corners of my eyes. It's been almost three decades since I heard him tell me how much he loved me.

Mema is a beauty with that smart dress and jet black hair. Her eyes are as sparkly as the ornaments on the Christmas tree. She has been gone for 10 years now, but a quilt she stitched still warms me on cool winter nights.

The boy in the striped shirt and the girl in the lace collar are less familiar to me. I recognize them as second cousins I saw infrequently during my childhood.

It is the girl on the end - in a dress I imagine to be an emerald green that would have perfectly matched her eyes - who captures me. Those eyes pierce my heart. She looks unhappy, and my heart aches just a little. Did she dislike having her picture taken even then? What did she ask for that Christmas? What were her hopes and dreams?

If I had seen this picture a few years earlier, I would have asked. As the fifth Mother's Day without her approaches, I find I still pose questions that will never be answered.

I look at this photograph of my mother - and hers - and I'm thankful. Thankful for their influence and their love. Thankful for tears shed and laughter shared. Thankful that they made me a daughter and a granddaughter. Thankful that they taught me how to be a mother.

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