I do recognize my grandmother. She was always a great beauty. Her wrinkles never stopped us from calling her Pretty Grandma. Until the end, she was thin, her hair curled, and makeup done.
I'd like to say that I'd recognize my mom in that picture, but I don't. So many babies look alike at that age.
On the other hand, my mom does look something like that now: round face, round form. Like many people, she went from fat baby, to thin young woman. But as long as I remember, she was round (having 4 kids will do that to you), outgoing, smart, and witty.
From that picture, my mom grew up to be an amazing woman.
She was oldest, the oldest of 4 girls. But she grew up in the shadow of an older brother who died as a little boy before she was born. She grew up with the responsibility of doing well by her younger sisters, studying to be a dentist because it would be a stable profession, even though she did not enjoy it, nor did she do well at it in dental school. But she did it because someone would have to care for the younger ones in case something happened to her parents.
After dental school, she married a man she loved and moved with him to a country she had never been to before. Now that's love, and a sense of adventure. She was a stay at home mom, raising 4 kids and making my dad's salary stretch. She packed us up and moved from Missouri to Maryland, to Texas and to Taiwan, as my dad's jobs took us around.
I'm sure the resettlement process was difficult, starting over at new schools, making new friends, but I don't have any traumatic memories of it. Maybe it was my mom's ability to make the new place home for us. Or I eventually got used to it. Or it's just me recasting the past to soften any rough parts of life. That's what helps us humans move on from bad things, right?
Anyway, in Taiwan, she started teaching English to the neighbors at our kitchen table, as a way of earning more, to help pay for tuition. Now she's had her own business for 15+ years and with my dad, put 4 kids not only through college, but grad school too. Except Brother Two, the youngest. He's probably not going to grad school, but that's another story.
All throughout, she wrote essays about us kids and about life. They're bound up in little volumes. I need to improve my Chinese, so I can read them someday. She wrote letters to the editor about social issues. She decorated cakes, practiced Chinese calligraphy, gardened, and many other kinds of arts and crafts.
She probably got it from her parents, who were tailors. Her mother was a great cook, and so is my mom. Her father, despite having only a third grade education, never stopped learning and applied for several mechanical patents. We called him Funny Grandpa and my mom certainly did get the smart and silly genes from him.
She was and is a great mom. And more than a mom. I like to think that I've inherited all those wonderful traits above from her and that I was able to accomplish all that I have because I had a great role model in her.
Except for the hair.