Back when my father was alive, he and I would frequently get into discussions in which I was obviously the person playing the role of the responsible adult. His favorite insult to throw at me at such times was, "You sound just like my mother."
Though I never said it aloud, I often thought, "Thank you. That's the nicest thing you could possibly have said."
True, my grandmother was not an easy woman to live with. Strong willed, highly opinionated, powerfully intelligent and prone to meddling, she was ahead her time by at least a half century. Educated, professional, enlightened well beyond the immigrant middle class constraints of her birth and upbringing, she lived a life of her own choosing, even when her choices -- like divorcing the father of her young son at a time when decent women did no such thing or getting herself a college education and later marrying a man 13 years her junior -- made her the talk of our little town.
I adored her and I grieve the loss of her still after nearly 40 years.
There is no denying that I am hers. Whenever I look at my hands, I wonder why they cannot simply pick up knitting needles and manifest sweaters, scarves, afghans, and all manner of wonders the ways hers did. Some days, I catch my reflection in the mirror or a storefront, and my breath catches in my throat. I look more like her every day. Today, a little more than usual, I think:
This is my self portrait for today. I'm doing one a day this year to document myself at 50. I think she would have liked this one. My hair is out of my eyes.