Last week my grandmother stopped by for a visit; she had brought a folder of some of her old drawings and paintings to show my youngest son (himself a budding artist). I have many memories of my grandmother painting and drawing, but I don’t remember seeing much of her actual work. Characteristically, she is modest and quiet about it, and she can’t imagine why anyone would want to see what she has made.
And so, as she rifled through the folder with my son, I walked up behind her with great interest, to see what all she had done. The folder was full of years’ worth of work, some dating back to the 1940’s, and she blushingly let me look through it all.
It’s my mother in 1949 (age 3), drawn by grandmother (age 23).
Even as I type these words, my own three-year-old daughter is sitting next to me, her head on my shoulder and her fingers poking the computer screen.
"Is dat Corrie?" she asks. It does kind of look like her.
"No, it’s Mimi," I explain. She looks at me. I can see the puzzlement in her eyes. To her, Mimi is a grown up with an unending source of hugs and root beer.
"Mimi was once a three-year-old girl just like you," I tell her. "Her momma drew pictures of her, the same way I write stories about you."
She thinks about this for a second, and then she scampers off for more engaging conversation with Dora the Explorer. But I’m left with the wonder of this drawing, the tangible, almost mystical evidence of a mother who loved her girl, who grew up to love her girl, who grew up to love her girl.
I’m having the picture framed for Corrie’s bedroom. She won’t understand the beauty of it now. But when, Lord willing, she has a three-year-old daughter, it will take her breath away.