It’s Mother’s Day again. You might think the image I am showing today is an odd selection for this day. It’s a small painting called A Hard Past that is from my 2008 Outlaws series. It’s one of a few pieces that I deeply regret ever letting go as it holds personal meaning for me. I just didn’t realize this at the time.
I know that this may not seem like a flattering thing to say but every time I look at this image I see my Mom’s face. At least, a certain look she had when she was sitting by herself in silence at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea and smoking her ever-present Camel cigarettes, those unfiltered beauties that no doubt contributed to the lung cancer that took her life at age 63.
She would sit in stillness for a long period time at that table with a distant and hardened gaze on her face. I always wondered what she was thinking or where she was in that moment. But when you’re a kid you just move through the kitchen without a word or a question.
More’s the pity…
The title, A Hard Past, came from this memory of her. She had a pretty hard life- her mother died when she was three, no school beyond ninth grade, years of toiling in a factory and a long, turbulent and angry marriage to my father. It gave her a hard edge, a toughness that several people commented on after her death back in 1995. But they also commented on her humor, generosity and willingness to help others who might need a hand– those qualities that I also saw in her. Those qualities that I so miss.
So while it may not seem like a flattering tribute, just seeing my Mom in this piece means so much to me.
For today’s music, I’m going with her favorite, Eddy Arnold, and a song that she probably felt fit her like a glove, You Don’t Know Me. It’s a classic song that Arnold is credited with co-writing along with songwriter Cindy Walker in 1955.
Have great Mother’s Day…