I do not believe in the cliché that a photo is worth a thousand words. For me, certain photographs, the ones that are really timed right and caught at the right angle are able to express far more than that, ideas and feelings that I would never be able to articulate in 100 years. Some images, the truly excellent ones, can depict a wide range of contrasting emotion and sensations for which there really are no words for. Sadly, I am not much of a photographer (I can barely figure out how to turn off the flash on my Fujifilm digital camera). Any pictures that I take that come out right I cannot accredit to my own skill, rather just by chance (aim, click and hope for the best). Nevertheless, I am still capable of appreciating a good photo when I see one.
I am a very visual person, and for me, to be able to go back and refer to a photo is equivalent to the luxury of being able to capture a moment and relive it over and over to my heart’s content. When I think of my favorite photograph, there is no doubt which picture comes to mind. Surprisingly, my favorite picture is not from my wedding, nor is it even from my son’s birth. In my mind, when I think about the image that means the most to me, I think of a photo that was taken by my grandfather of me when I was about two years old with my mom.
In this particular photo, my mom and I are sitting on the concrete steps in front of our brick house that we used to live in in the suburbs of Katonah, New York. The circumstances of the photo are very vague to me, though I remember that I had a pair of yellow sunglasses, and I remember that it was late summer. As Mom and I were outside, she suddenly plucked the glasses off my face, placed them over her eyes, and made a silly face at me to my great amusement.
The expression that my grandfather was able to capture is one of pure joy, a special, beautiful moment between a loving mother and daughter. When I nostalgically think back to this simpler, more innocent time, I can’t help but feel an immense rush of love for my mom. She really is the best mom that I could have ever asked for. She is more than just a parent to me- she is my role model, my confidant, and my best friend.
My mother is a woman who is strong, yet never hesitant to demonstrate her incredibly tender and compassionate side. A self-proclaimed, “eternal optimist,” her personal motto is, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade,” a mantra that saw her through many difficult periods, including a childhood full of adversity in the south Bronx, an ugly divorce, and breast cancer to name a few. She also declares proudly that she has the ability “to find a rainbow in a pile of shit.” There is no doubt in my mind that this is true.
She is the type of person who fiercely roots for and advocates for the underdog, and fights passionately for what she believes is right. Had she not fought for me and my well-being during my most tumultuous and darkest years, I can confidently say that I probably would have died a long time ago. It is because of her persistence and unwavering, unconditional love for me as her daughter that I survived a frightening bout with Lyme disease as a child, as well as several periods of self-destruction and self-hatred in my teen years and early twenties. Her love and faith never faltered and never let go. If it weren’t for her, well… I really can’t say what might have happened to me.
Not that I only want to focus on the solemn, heavy side of things when there are so many different sides to her as a dynamic individual. My mom prides herself on still being “feisty” at age 62, and that she is. She still loves going on roller coasters and thoroughly enjoys concerts (yet interestingly enough, is petrified of dancing). She is the type of person who commands attention when she has something to say, but is an equally thoughtful and attentive listener.
Did I mention that she also attended the original Woodstock? Pretty cool!
When I look back at photos of her, I can’t help but feel immense pride that I am my mother’s daughter. A lover of books, cats, and fine cooking, she is the most beautiful person who I have ever known, inside and out.