Because she died so young, I’m now older than my mother.  But she’s still my mother.  That’s non-negotiable.  I’m still struggling to be exactly like her and nothing like her.

Horses Running - Paradox of Mom

She was – for me – paradox embodied.  But there were two paradoxes that were most troubling:   One was the juxtaposition of the physical violence and the profound human kindness – both of them completely authentic in her.

Like the horses.  The painting of two horses that always hung in our living room – and we moved to a new house every year, so there were many living rooms, but always the same paintings .  In this one, two horses are racing, a black horse and a brown horse.  For hours, and for years I look again at the painting, sensing that one horse is ahead, then the other.

My experience of my mother, after I left home at 16,  was similarly shifting.  Like a shifting magnetic field.  She was wonderful / she was horrible,  she was deeply caring / she was violent, she was a humanist / she was a class snob.  For years I struggled in my mind to make one of each pair cancel the other out.  They were contradictory.

But they were all true.

That was impossible to accept.

The horses were racing. One was ahead.  One would win.

But the beauty of the painting is that there’s no resolution.  They’re always both winning, both losing – and maybe — it never occurring to me until this moment — that the horses might not have been racing.  Just two horses side by side.  It’s me that thinks one needs to win.  It was me who needed her to be all one thing or all another.  But she was both – of everything contradictory.

I’m blogging my Mom this month to warm myself up for two Mother’s Day shows in the greater Boston Area.

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