- by Charlotte Hubbard
And sometimes they change your perspective–and therefore, they directly affect your life. I’ll ask you creative writer types to indulge me in a bit of playful introspection here, and I’ll leave it to you to figure out how it pertains to writing! But then, for us writers, everything pertains to writing.
So–I’m at the funeral visitation for my step-mom, Juanita, who didn’t raise me but still claimed me as the oldest of her five children after I got reunited with my biological father, her husband. (long story). My mother, Wanda, was his first wife. And as happens at visitations, all the old cronies and colleagues come out of the woodwork to express condolences. A lot of them took my hand and said, “Charlotte, you look SO much like your mother.”
Never mind that thirteen years ago, at my father’s visitation in this same funeral home, these same folks were saying, “Charlotte, you are SO much like your father!” I accepted that as high praise because my father was a wonderful, loving man…and yeah, I inherited his hair, his square face, his physique, and his cute little hands and feet. Look at him, look at me–from the front and the back–and we had to be blood kin.
And it wasn’t anything new to hear that I looked like Mom, but at my age, well–I’ve come to that irrefutable, resigned revelation that in many ways I’ve become my mother. The mirror–and all those little habits and mannerisms–don’t lie.
Yet after I left for home, it hit me! These people who said I looked like Mom–these people who worked with her, so they knew me before I was born–haven’t seen Wanda for more than 50 years! When she divorced my father to marry my dad (hint: younger, more charismatic man in an Air Force uniform…) she moved halfway across the country, never to associate with these coworkers again. She was 25. She had a dewy-eyed freshness despite the perpetual cigarette between her fingers; the sloe-eyed, smokey allure of a rebellious spirit. In a 40’s sort of way, my mom was HOT. Or she turned her share of heads, anyway.
And that’s who these kindly older ladies–her contemporaries–were comparing ME to!
Needless to say, I have a whole new perspective now! I’ve put a new spin on “you’re so much like your mother” or, Lord help us, “I’ve become my mother.”
And yeah, it’ll show up in a story someday.