How to Look at my Mom

© Copyright 2020 Katherine Gory, Ryerson University.

Dr. Monique Tschofen

ENG 705

How to Look at my Mom

Across from me at Bar Verde at the Eaton Centre, you might find my mom. A woman who gave birth to me nineteen years ago, and calls me and my brother “her heart”. The smell of her Chanel No 5 perfume stamps the rooms she enters and exits, a scent she always thought was “young but not young, old but not too old”. She isn’t as old as she believes she is. She told me she bought the red coat the day before, to spend her Christmas money and “give herself a boost”. The money she received came before things got so much harder. One can spot this bright coat floating around the mall, and wouldn’t look at her the way I do, beyond the coat and see the depths of her personality, and smile past and present memories.

One thing you might notice about my mom is her smile. A smile I can picture even if we’re miles apart. This time, humour didn’t conjure this smile, or a story I told her about my week, or a story she told me. It was the presence of my iPhone camera and her desire to prove to the peers in this class and to the world that she’s okay. That same mouth would sing Opera and Josh Groban when I was little, hymns echoing up multiple flights of stairs. The words that spilt from her lips I learned to love more as I near my twenties. Words that would push me to work to prove myself to everyone around me in public school, now encourage me to take care of my mental health and treat myself with kindness. Maybe grim days past changed this, and she realized that not all good things last in life, and she channelled her own feelings of pain into words of encouragement for others. In recent days, abundant apologies were spoken, looking for the love from others she sought. She now sings Ave Maria and pauses in the middle to catch a breath or stop a few tears from falling.

When I told my mom about this project, her eyes watered, voice shaky and she thanked me for choosing her to talk about. She takes off her glasses for photos, and this one is no different. She always told me the glare would ruin a photo. When she takes her glasses off, you can see deep brown eyes; eyes that in the past year have gained so much depth and hold so much pain. She told us she cried for months leading up to the incident that changed our family. These eyes saw way too much, witnessed things she never wished she saw. Her eyes still scan the reactions of my brother and I, attempting to discover any discontent and sadness. She used to scan our faces after she told a joke, or said something interesting. These eyes have searched for happiness in others, and hold nothing but love for them too. If you look at her eyes when she talks about the things she’s most passionate about, like her mission work in Kenya, her eyes get expressive and the lights hit them so it looks like a tear might stray down her cheek. Although she’s never been a happy crier. 

When you look at my mother, you won’t see someone broken, grappling with the motions of day to day life. You’ll see a broken past, but if you look close enough into those dark brown eyes, you’ll see hope. Hope for brighter days to come, for herself and for those she loves.

Works Cited

© Copyright 2020 Gory, Katherine. “Picture of my Mom” Photograph. Ryerson University. 31 January 2020.

Elkins, James. How to Use Your Eyes. New York: Routledge, 2000. Print.

Woman Smiling, Sitting at Table Wearing Red
Gory, Katherine. “Picture of my Mom” Photograph. Ryerson University. 31 January 2020