In the photo my mother is beautiful. Though it is in black and white, I picture her cheeks rosy as pink Chablis. Her hair cascades thick and wavy to meet the soft slant of her shoulders covered demurely in a dark dress I imagine, a shade of red. She is smiling coyly for the camera, as if she is the keeper of some secret, about to spring a surprise.
The couch she sits on is splattered with clusters of tiny white blossoms. Behind her the wallpaper is enmeshed in huge leaves pointing skyward; between each two leaves is a single flower. The floor linoleum is a characteristic 1950’s pattern of multicolored and sized diagonal stripes. In the photo my mother is a constant, in surroundings I can only describe as busy, and so she has been for most of her life.
The photo was taken after mine and my older sister’s birth, before those of our siblings; before school days, dating, marriages, children, divorces, grandchildren and all forms of crises imagined or real which have transformed her once vibrant brown hair to gray, strand by strand. Long before wrinkles claimed her face, Arthritis wreaked havoc on her joints, Osteoporosis settled in her bones.
In the photo my mother is beautiful. She is poor but happy, innocent and trusting, hinging on a promise, glimmering with love.