I scribbled yesterday about the image I have of my mother. To be honest, I am not sure if it is the correct one, or the one she wants others (including me) to hold. Do we see her as the strong, sharp, and radiant rose because she really is, or she wants us to see her as so? Or is it who we expect her to be, regardless of how she wants to portray herself?
Maybe she really is the person who I imagine her to be.
My aunt (my mother’s younger sister, both she and I are second-borns) and I often laughingly talk about our common view of her as a typical “first-born,” having irrefutable authority over us because she knows us so well and is always right about what is best for us (and how we hate being told what to do, so we try to prove her wrong, but we usually end up doing exact what we are told!).
And I have reasons to believe my grandmother saw her much the same way. I have been passed down traditional wears of both my mother and my aunt, ordered to be made by my grandmother, and I can tell which one is which without being told – my mother’s are vivid in colour and have motives that stand out, while my aunt’s have much softer colours and sensitive motives that blend in nicely with the background.
As existentialists would argue, if different individuals perceive something in the same way, it is more likely that the thing exists the way it is perceived. So there probably is some truth to the same image we all hold of my mother… the portraits we paint of her adhere to our observations. But maybe we have not captured everything she is putting out.
I think that far too often, we paint a portrait of someone, and thinking we have captured in it everything there is to find in one take, never again come back to refine it. But even great painters like the world-famous Italian artist and philosopher L.d.V. took years to finish M.L. to capture the finest details and make her come alive in the portrait he painted. Would it not be too arrogant for us to think that the portraits we paint need no constant additional work?
Then, maybe it is about time I went back to my mother’s portrait.
Maybe this time I can draw her from another angle.
Maybe this time I can draw her in another light.
Maybe this time I can draw her in another setting.
Maybe she will still be a strong, sharp, and radiant rose.
But maybe she will show herself to me in different poses and attitude.
Maybe she will tell me she actually wants to be drawn in different clothes and adornment.
Maybe she will reveal to me different looks and sides of her we have never expected.
And maybe we will both enjoy going through this re-work… I really hope we will.