Sunday, October 16, 2005

Am I my mother's daughter?

There is this picture that sticks in my mind of my mother, 7 or 8 months pregnant with her fourth child, posing in the park not far from our home in Moose Factory, with us older kids and our Grammy (her mother). It is 1977, probably August or September, and my mother still wears those "cat" glasses from the 60's. She has one of those semi-psyquedelic shirts on, a mix of reds, oranges and browns. Her hair is long, (falls past her breasts), blond, and parted in the middle. She also happens to be blessed with naturally wavy hair. It is one of those lovely late summer days, there is a small breeze and wisps of my mother's hair are dancing lightly.

It is a moment lost in time. This was one of the last summers Grammy spent with us. She stayed with us again in 1979 when my mother was pregnant with her last child. She left not long after my brother Jean Pierre was born in November. My mother accompanied her on her trip home, but she never made it home. They made it to St Catherines Ontario, where my mother has a cousin. My Grammy died at the hospital in St Catharines.

I was only seven and a half when Grammy died. I do not remember her all that well, just that she loved us very much, that she sent us huge boxes full of different presents at Christmas and for our birthdays, that I was always very happy when she came and that she walked very slowly whenever we had to walk anywhere. I also remember that I was sad when she died.

Fast forward to the present: I look in the mirror at myself sometimes and I see my mother, especially in the mornings before I do anything with my hair. I look at the reflexion (sometimes) surrounded by children, wearing a shirt with pink, tan and brown swirls (semi-psyquedelic?), the belly huge with a fifth child, my hair long and parted down the middle, and still wearing glasses from the early nineties.

My hair does not fall just past my breasts, (although I'd like to get it there sometime), it falls to just above. I have light brown hair, not blond hair. I was not blessed with waves although you can't say that my hair is perfectly straight either. The nineties glasses are a far cry from the cat glasses, but what we have in common is that by this stage in our lives, we have been wearing the same glasses for over 10 years. (I was told recently by a friend that it was time to change,... hee hee, but I'm in no hurry) Oh, and my mother was almost ten years older than I am now. But I see her staring out at me from my reflexion. I recognize her when towels have to be folded just so, when flowers are added to the decor, or when I prefer to do things in the kitchen without my children's "help". I know she is there when I grumble to myself about how my husband puts pots away. I see her when I hug my children and tell them I love them, or when I insist that they eat at least one teaspoon of whatever it is they don't like.

I am not my mother. We differ on too many things. But I am my mother's daughter. We are the same on too many things.

This is from a different summer. I don't have the other photo. I am the oldest child, on the far left. These are my paternal grandparents. Our garden is in the back and the neighbour's house just beyond that. My mother is pregnant (but less advanced) with her last child, my brother Jean Pierre. She has had her hair cut. This also happens to be the last I saw of either of my paternal grandparents, whom I never knew very much. They lived too far away for us to visit very often. They died only a few years later. They were the same age my parents are now when they died.