I’ve posted pictures of my mother as a child (see here and here) and others of her as a young woman before I knew her (see here and here). Some stories behind the pictures I know. And others I wish I knew.
Mostly, I wish I’d known my mother better. What was she like as a little girl? As an adolescent? As a college student and a young woman in love?
Many of us wish we knew more about our parents. Maybe we admire them and hope to be more like them. Maybe we need to understand why they treat us as they do by learning how they were treated as children themselves. Maybe we want to see historical or family events through their eyes.
Part of the reason I write this blog is to save for posterity the memories I have of childhood and parenthood—how I thought and felt at various moments in my life. I don’t know if posterity will ever care, but it comforts me to know there is a record in cyberspace of my existence, that some of my stories are being preserved in my own words.
My father’s eulogy of my mother at her funeral focused on three things that were important to her—her family, her faith, and her friends. She was, of course, more than these, but as I have reflected over the year since she died, these three aspects of her life are critical to understanding her personality.
I felt her love of family—at least, I felt her love for me, her daughter.
She raised all of her children in her faith, though I am the only one who practices it regularly today.
But I saw her only occasionally in her capacity as friend, and only after she was well-established in adulthood. I know very little of her friendships as a child and young woman (other than that she married her high school boyfriend).
So I love this zany picture of my mother and three of her friends in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where she grew up. It shows me things about her that I never experienced.
I recognize my mother—the one on the far left with the finger horns above her head. It’s hard to tell whose arms and legs are whose. Their clothes tell us it is summer. I’m guessing the girls are about thirteen or fourteen, which would mean the photo was taken in 1946 or ’47, but it could be a year or two either side of that. They all look devilish, carefree, and happy.
Who took the picture? And why? And what caused the others to put horns on my mother? That’s not a persona of hers I ever encountered.
I think this foursome became acquainted early in grade school and stayed close through high school. Then they went to different colleges (or didn’t all go to college—I don’t know their histories). They wrote each other Christmas cards and letters throughout their lives.
My father told me the names of the other girls, and also told me the four girls had silly nicknames for each other (“Binky” and such). But I have mostly forgotten both the real names and the nicknames. I certainly cannot place my vague recollections of names with the faces. So now I do not know who they are, nor what has become of the other three. Now that my parents are gone, our family’s knowledge of the story of these young women’s friendship is gone as well.
I wish I’d written down the story of these four friends when it was told to me. And I wish there were someone now whom I could ask to tell it to me again.
What do you wish you knew about your parents?