Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has never been easy for me. I can’t imagine it was less difficult for my mother. For decades it was a reminder of not having a mother in the way that I would have liked. A mom to make lunches, help me pick out school clothes and tuck me into bed. All the Hallmark cards were obviously written by someone who had a mother growing up. “Thanks Mom for being there”. “I can’t imagine a better mother than you”. I stopped looking through the cards. There wasn’t one that said “I love you even though you had to leave and I understand that now as an adult”.

When I was a child my mother abandoned my family to have an affair. The man she left us for turned out to be violent; he beat her so badly that she suffered permanent brain damage and had to be moved into an assisted living facility where she still lives today. Of her five children, only my younger sister has visited her regularly over the years.

I have early, fond memories of my mom as a beautiful, passionate, vivacious, and fiery, Guatemalan Sophia Loren. But since she left us, I have had tremendous feelings of abandonment and rage towards her.  Her actions led me to judge her as impetuous, selfish, reckless,and a negligent mother.  I resented what she did to herself and her family.  I carried so much anger, yet whenever I saw her, I was overcome with pity and sadness.  Just looking at her gnarled hand from the brain damage brought forth more emotion than I could bear.  For these reasons, I have virtually ignored my mother to try and distance myself from my own pain.

I have been pushing down my feelings about my mother for decades. In graduate school I began to dissolve the judgments I held against my mother with the work I did with a healer. Last year I did something different. I began to explore and photograph my mother for the first time with my camera. This is what I do with my feelings now. On this road to acceptance, I can experience my raw emotions through the safe distance of a camera lens.

Annie Leibowitz’s advice to young photographers is to “start with friends and family. The people who will put up with you. Stay close to home. Discover what it means to be close to a subject.” Photographer Steve McCurry said “If you want to be a photographer, first leave home.” When I started taking photos as a little girl, I stuck close to friends and family. At twenty I hit the road, moving to Israel and was happiest when I was taking photos in another country.  I’m back to photographing what is close to home; my mother, father and even myself.

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About hannahkozak

I am passionate about photography & have been making photos since I was a little girl. I have been a stunt woman for twenty five years. I have a passion for exploration, discovery, and escape. I dream of every place I seek to travel to. A recovering adrenaline junkie, I seek authenticity in everyday experiences. I love Kundalini Yoga,travel, books,writing and authentic, real experiences and people. I brake for squirrels. Que le vaya bien! View all posts by hannahkozak

One response to “Mother’s Day

  • SB

    Hi there,

    I worked in a nursing home for a while. I saw many patients like your mother and it is sad to see. I realize the sadness isn’t just from her physical condition, but from an emotional grief, and lingering anger, for lost years with your mother. I’m so sorry it was like this for you.
    I haven’t had an experience anything like this. My mom was a very special person, and I’ll probably cherish her memory even more now.
    I’ve known people who had a parent walk out on their family, or them alone. They’ve all had a very difficult time coping with different aspects of their lives.
    You grew up to be a remarkable woman in spite of it, or maybe partly because of it. You have so many unique qualities and are cherished by many people. Always remember that! You are very special. Sharon

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