I do not have any pictures of my mother and I together. She was not fond of having her picture taken and, from the time of my senior year in high school, I was more often than not behind the camera than the one having my picture taken. I do have a couple large boxes filled with carousels of slides taken from my childhood years but it's a huge job with a handheld viewer and I have not tackled it yet. Still, there must be some photos of us somewhere because I can recall at least one. Where is it?
Where is that photo of the two of us standing in the driveway? She's wearing her tan woolen slacks and her coral cashmere sweater, her pearls hanging from her neck and her brown loafers on her feet. I'm six or seven years of age and my arms are wrapped around her, my head leaning against her side. I'm over-posing, as I used to do at that age, so the love captured is really over the top. Her arm is on my back. We both are smiling. I have that coral sweater she's wearing, how come I don't have that picture?
Why is it I can only remember this one photo of us? How can that be? For much of my life, my father had a camera in his hand as often as I do today. I have photos of her and I know there were so many taken but what I am missing is pictures of us, just us.
My earliest memory though is a photo in my mind. Black and white, strong edges. I was a baby and I remember crawling down our hallway towards the livingroom. She was standing there, ironing, and when she saw me, she smiled at me with such surprise and joy, such love, and she walked to me and scooped me into her arms. I remember how good that felt. When I told her years and years later that I remembered that, she was shocked. How could you, you were a baby? And she filled in the story for me. She was ironing my father's handkerchiefs and she was watching Miss America on the television. I have no idea how you got out of your crib or opened your door, but there you were, crawling towards me. When I saw you, I said, Hi honey, and you were so happy, you just squealed with delight. I always loved the times we talked about that memory, how we would share our perspectives.
Four years and three cell phones ago, I crawled into bed beside her and snapped our picture. She didn't know what was going on, what I was doing, but she did look into the camera. That was the last photo taken of us. It's not flattering of either one of us, but it's still a record. I look at it on occasion and I remember the moment, I remember my mother.
My mother, she was here. And I was here with her. We lost her three years ago today. Three years into a lifetime of missing her and I'm still remembering that first memory, and still wondering where the photos are.