Spring--My mother's final face
Written by
Louise Nayer
March 2010
Written by
Louise Nayer
March 2010
As I think of Spring and my memoir coming out in April, I think of my mother walking down the long, winding road of Peter Cooper Village where we lived in New York City—and my face pressed to the windowpane on the second floor of the apartment building. I wanted to see her final face from the window and hoped that she would finally look like all the other mothers. My parents were burned in a gas explosion in the basement of a rental cottage(while my sister and I slept upstairs). My mother would endure 37 operations, mostly on her face and hands. She was promised that she would look “presentable.” So after every operation, when her face still looked disfigured and strange, we believed, as she did for a time, that the next operation would finally fix her, maybe even make her look like a movie star. It was in late Spring, I believe, though sometimes the timeline of operations is a blur, that I looked for her in her red coat. Many of the mothers wore red coats then—and I thought, that she would look like all the other mothers, though even more pretty and of course special because she was my mother. But that wasn’t the reality and it was never to be the reality. She had been terribly damaged and walking down the road she was also terribly brave. And I held in my tears when she asked me, “How do you like my face?” It was Springtime then—the beginning of new life and my mother’s new and final face.

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