Mama’s Boy.Posted: March 29, 2009
Boys must have something in them that prevents them from seeing their mothers as pretty, or, God forbid, sexy. The incest taboo that lives not only in our heads but in our cellular structure works to make sure that Mom is not pretty in our eyes, or ugly either, but just, well, Mom. The rare moment breaks through this wall of denial — the smell of Chanel No. 5 when you are seven and she is about to go out to a Saturday dance, an aroma that awakens a glimmer in you that your mother has an existence outside the role you need her to play exclusively — but by and large we sons are blind to our mothers as women.
My mother, widowed by my father two years ago, died a week ago today, at the age of 88. While we sat shiva in her apartment this past week, my eye kept going to the wedding picture of her that my sister had placed on the credenza in the living room. The photograph put me in a trance. She was beautiful. The picture of the girl-woman in 1940, just shy of her twentieth birthday, conjured up the spirit of the Selma who must have been living inside my mother all these years.
I had always loved my mother, and she seldom had cause to doubt that. But now I was in love with her. I could sense the qualities, physical, mental, and spiritual, that made my father adore her, made him happily dedicate his life to her. It was safe, now, for me to see that. The feeling now pervades my memories of her, and I am not ashamed of it. I am under her spell now in a way I could not be when she was alive. I think that’s the way she wants it.