A Maternal Montage

Summon your earliest memory of a woman's face. Next, apply features to her -as you now know them.

Dab onto your mind's canvass, the special thing that made her neck a perfectly-huggable haven for you as baby. Try to hug it -if you can reach. Sketch it so whether your hug succeeds, or falls short, her smile grows.

In your portrait, capture the smile of her eyes, seen whenever they reflect your face. Draft the ability of her eyes to wordlessly love you, learn you, know you, reassure you, correct you, cry for you, forgive you and then love you still.

Sprinkle her image with an uncanny knack for curing your cuts and for soothing your scrapes. Show the scene in which you were too delighted to wonder how she magically produced a hot chocolate chip cookie after your fall on the sidewalk. Or, include the first time she kissed your bruised knee that shouldn't have suddenly felt better -but did.

Splash her with the skill of a master chef. Draw her in detail, as she removes an oven mitt to slide an oversized slice of warm, freshly baked, apple pie to a place where your dinner plate was. Reveal your face too -losing control of a grin when she smothers your pie under an enormous, melting scoop of vanilla ice cream (a scoop, she'll argue -with a wink, is a "small"). Pause for a moment to jot a realization onto your canvass: The deliciousness of your first bite of pie is superseded by her pleasure in watching you enjoy it.

Portray her with enough hope to tolerate the irrational things you say, believe and do, as an adolescent. Make her love for you a bit stronger, blinder and undaunted while your growth hormones temporarily fog her value to you. Etch into her, an inclination to protect you that will forever be stronger than any ability you'll have to rebel.

Be certain to showcase the occasional, minor embarrassment she will cause you in the company of your high school friends. Her lack of tact (by sharing the "too cute" photo of your potty training), you will later understand, represents her raw, unedited, pure love of, and unbounded excitement about every aspect of you.

Add to her a magic hand for the stress of your college years. Trace the palm that will often dissolve your worries with a few slow circles rubbed tenderly into the middle of your back. Also detail the years of selfless work recorded in the lines of her fingers.

Apply a shade that will imbue her with enough foresight to know that your physical adulthood won't change who you are to her. Depict the insistence with which she reminds you (and as you gratefully accept), that you'll always be "her baby."

Don't forget to embellish your portrait with generous strokes of her unforgettable laugh -a laugh you'll seek to trigger at every opportunity. Color it such that each time you hear it, you'll pause to also hear the echo of her joy in you. You'll recall its sound as the sweetest music when you are old so, please, doodle her favorite joke into your masterpiece as well.

As a caption, coin a worthy name for her. Insist on a name whose easy sound can mimic the softness of her touch. See that it can be whispered comfortably, quietly, with barely a breath. Yet make it bold enough to excitedly shout with news of something to make her proud. Her name should contain no hard consonants, but rather letters that produce a smooth, 1-syllable resonance. The name you choose will fit her best if it flows effortlessly over a relaxed tongue, and ends in lips ready to kiss.

Finally, to complete your montage, illustrate the delivery of your next message to her. Perhaps, add your carefully-coined name to the end of "I love you." And then notice that whether she receives your message in person, by phone or on paper, her smile grows.

Model: Verlene Virginia Neil. I love you, "Mom"

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