Who’s your mama? (and who does that make you?)

- by Charlotte Hubbard

You hear the darndest things at funerals.

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.

9 comments

  1. and i have been told at times i have become my father, in some ways i think i have, but i am much more open minded, less anal retentive—he doesn’t much like or get poetry…we are like paul newman and robbie benson in “harry and son”

    where did i come from? is a question i often ask myself…

    it’s like they said in Breakfast Club…we become our parents….but allison also said “when we get old our heart dies”
    i hope that never comes true!
    foggy

  2. Well, HI, Fog!

    Thanks for stopping by! Lots of fodder in family relationships–and I got a TON of it when I discovered this family/sibs/reunited with my birth father. I doubt your heart will ever die, Fog, dear–and I never intend to get that old, either! ; )

  3. OMG! How cute are you. :)
    What a soap opera story. Sometimes it isn’t so bad to turn into your mother. LOL Great post!

  4. You may look like your mother and your father (a good thing, yes?) but OMG, how much you still look like your cute toddler self! Almost the same hair-do even. I bet kindergarten friends who haven’t seen you since would recognize you immediately!

  5. So you noticed that hairstyle, too? I’d never really thought about that until looking at this photo as I posted it! I guess that means I’m either really, really hard up for a new look…or that some things come full circle!
    Right now, I’d be happy for that same flawless skin.

  6. Charlotte- You look so much like her. :-). I wonder if she was as spunky as you? Thanks for sharing the wonderful picture.

  7. Great post, Charlotte! I am nothing like my mother. Nothing. As far opposite as you can get and still be in the same dimension. No OCD, no behaviors or looks or mannerisms. Nada. Now my dad, on the other hand… And you are so cute as a toddler and I agree with Barb, Holy Crap! You haven’t changed a bit in the face. :)

  8. Well, Ann and Annmarie, some of the stuff my mom was pulling when that photo was taken, in 1954ish, was considered HIGHLY UNMOTHERLY…as in, she was divorcing my bio father to eventually marry the younger Air Force “fly guy” she’d been fooling around with. Yessirreee, quite a soap opera in its day. I am SO grateful that all these folks who knew her–including my second family–have never berated her or badmouthed her for it, and have never held it against ME. This includes my bio father, with whom I reunited about 15 years ago. He was a true lesson in the art of forgiveness and moving on with his life after “she done him wrong.”

  9. HaHa! I love it! So am I just like my mother?