It has taken me eight years to answer my mother’s letters; this is my reply.
It has been hard to reconcile your treacherous cunning and unrelenting mean streak with those soft pink hair curlers in my sister’s hair when she was three years old. You must have pulled her close in your lap, taken hank in hand, then brushed and rolled each one, snapping the plastic in place over and over. She wasn’t crying that day. In the Polaroid, her smile is wide and framed by those majestic Ohio buckeye trees.
Why does a small child cross the road with curlers? Why does one snap a precious photo? Was it a special occasion despite the patches on her jeans and the hand-me-down coat?
It is difficult for me to imagine the calm and care it took for this task came from your hands at all and because it seems so unlikely, I have kept this photo for years slipped into the dictionary, nestled near the word untrustworthy.