Today I planned to hit you over the head with an ambitious do-it-yourself project. It involves taking an old slide or negative and turning it into a sentimental masterpiece worthy of prime wall space in a soulful home. The image I’m using for this project happens to be of a woman and a child sitting on a horse in a desert. The woman is my mother, I am the child, and the desert is in Iran. Which is frankly a lot more fun to write about than pixels and filters. So the Photoshop step-by-step will have to wait for another day. Let’s talk about my mom.
She is twenty-seven in this photo. The way she is sitting that horse is proof of a childhood spent around farm animals. She grew up in a very quiet Illinois hamlet, went off to Chicago for nursing school, met and married an Iranian doctor, and joined him in returning to his homeland.
The way she is sitting that horse also matches the way she adjusted to life halfway around the world – with poise and grace. She learned the language, embraced her new family, and made a life for herself.
The strength she exhibits on that horse is the same strength that enabled her to deliver me and my brother in a hospital that hadn't before admitted women in labor. She stitched her own diapers out of fabric she bought at the bazaar. She made her own baby food. She kept us safe from snakes.
The bemused smile on her face is evidence of her unsinkable sense of humor. It saved her time and again when strange customs caught her out. Her laughter evened the playing field with Iranian men who sometimes expected women to treat them like the Shah. Her sense of humor was her shield.
Lastly, the love in her eyes, as she looks at my father who took this photo with his trusty Leica, is what started the whole thing. It's the same love that encircles me and keeps me stable atop the big animal. It makes my mother sparkle. Somehow, the lens captures her originality and the photo is a timeless treasure.
So I shall play with different versions and apply different filters. Then I'll blow it up and hang it near my bed where I can see it from my pillow and give a prayer of thanks that my mother is such a woman.
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