Her Back

Strength, beauty, generosity and wisdom. I see them in this photo I took of my mother.

My mother gave me her body, twice. Every biological mother shares her body in order to grow and birth a child. Twenty years later, my mother posed nude for me to facilitate my work in a college photography class.

She takes the phrase, “I’ve got your back,” to a whole different level. She gave me hers. Twice.


Interestingly enough, I would not say we were inordinately close growing up. At the same time, I knew if I asked, she would provide. She is also an artist and knows the value of the human form, but also, willing to go out of her way for her children. Still. She was raised in a very conservative religion and is the oldest of nine children, so this photograph is contrary to the valedictorian she was in her 20’s, as well as her earlier up-bringing.

This same woman, four years ago, at the ripe old age of 80, approached me about the malignancy in my marriage. She knew she was rocking the boat and the consequences could be monumental. She also knew what wasn’t right and was willing to speak the truth I was denying.

Weirdly enough, 35 years ago, when this photo was taken, I had said the same to her.

In that time, her marriage went through major trauma, recovery and is now in a much better place. I am proud of what my parents have done with that union.


She is only 4’11” and I remember mentioning that fact in grade school.

“Is she a midget?” one of my classmates asked.

NO! Quite the opposite. I always thought she was a giant.

She put herself through college, thanks to scholarships and working three jobs. She moved abroad, despite not knowing the language and started her family in a foreign land. Once they returned to the U.S. she taught house-bound disabled students by driving all over the country-side. She ran for the school board more than once.

One summer a local farm boy died in a pond on a hot, summer day, she started the only local swim school in our rural community.

She has always been brave. I recall the Son of Sam era in NYC. Most people were avoiding New York City like the plague.

If you wonder who Son of Sam is check this out https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/son-of-sam-arrested

We went into the City and watched a Broadway show in a nearly empty theater. We had a mounted police escort back to our hotel.

She and my father were in Spain when President Trump said he was closing the borders to anyone from Europe, due to Covid-19. I had asked them to stay home and stay safe, but that is never an option they exercised, I realized as I look back on their lives.

She was a shaker and a mover.

Now, she tells me she is getting forgetful. It is something we have witnessed for the past few years. There is nothing anyone can do, unfortunately.

We are losing her a little bit at a time. This woman, who in my mind, is still a giant. She is in her 80’s, practicing social distancing, bemoaning she cannot host guests for dinner.

She is wise enough, as ever, to know what is happening, so often she tells me, “I’m getting forgetful.”

“Yes, Mom, I know,” I respond, “And that’s ok. Sometimes, that happens. Just remember, there is one thing you cannot forget. Do you remember what that is?”

She chuckles. “I don’t remember,” she confesses.

“You don’t remember the One Thing I said You Can’t Forget?”

She giggles. “No, I don’t.”

Then, she turns to ask my dad if he remembers. “How would I know what you were supposed to remember?” he says and they both laugh.

“Remember, that I love you,” I tell her, as she chuckles.

It’s the only thing anyone remembers.

By Catstrav

Reindeer handler. NDT tech. Mother of four. Aspiring astronaut.

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