A Piece of Me: A Bewitching Picture
Kissing a picture of Elizabeth Montgomery in her role as Serena cut from Tiger Beat magazine may seem silly. But I assure you if it were the only concrete possession you owned connecting you to your mother, you wouldn’t see the humor in it at all.
While most of us remember Elizabeth in her title role of Samantha in Bewitched, we loved her when she played her cousin Serena. With the dark hair required for that role, the resemblance between my mother and Serena was uncanny. It was so real to my sister, Dairene, and me that we convinced ourselves that it was our mother. In truth, we knew it was not, but this distorted view of reality is what gave us solace. The bond we shared with this picture became so strong that we reported our daily happenings to it, treating it as it were our mother. With each one-sided conversation, we wishfully waited for a response. Out of faithfulness and trust, we confided our deepest thoughts and confessed our greatest sins to the picture that hung on the wall above the light switch. We spoke to it with such honesty that anyone who overheard us might think we were speaking to a Catholic priest during confessional.
Each passing day brought with it the heavy weight of burdens that rested on our small, narrow shoulders. However, because of the magic that the picture provided, the load seemed lighter and much easier to hold. The picture served its purpose well by allowing us to surrender our heartaches and problems. This eight-by-ten photograph taken by a stranger offered not only a smiling face to look at, but also a sense of belonging that only a foster child could understand.
We came to anticipate bedtime for it was our time with our mommy. In those minutes before sleep, we shared our frustrations, wishes, and joys with her as we lay in our twin beds and stared at her beautiful face before bedtime prayer. With God’s watchful eye and mother’s smiling face, we managed to muster a smile before falling fast asleep. Nightmares became less frequent. Most nights did not seem so dark because we knew morning would come; with it came hope.
So as the morning sun warmed the room, Elizabeth’s smile greeted us and fueled us with the courage to face the day ahead. It was the only picture on the wall. Though it was just a picture to many who read Tiger Beat, it was our umbilical cord.
As time marched on, the picture became priceless. After all, it was literally the only connection we had with our mother. The welfare system and our foster parents forbade any form of communication with our parents and that meant even a photograph. Out of fear, the photograph remained a well-hidden secret. Out of necessity, we kept our secret from our two brothers because the last thing we wanted was for it to be ripped from the wall.
The gratitude my sister and I felt for the picture that hung in Aunt Mae’s spare bedroom was immeasurable. The picture became like a shrine. We were careful not to tear it or smudge it in any way, for it and our devotion to God is what gave us hope. Montgomery’s smiling face filled our room with grace and comfort; it provided us the opportunity to kiss our mommy good night and tell her we loved her.
Now as a woman, reflecting back to this time of my life, I can see with clarity that it was not by any means an accident or chance that we found this particular picture to hang on our bare wall. It was God and his angels working overtime to save two innocent souls. It was God that placed that picture in our hands so we would know while traveling down the road of uncertainty that there is certainty and purpose.
To this day, my sister and I speak of the photograph and give thanks to the stranger who took it. I am convinced, now more than ever, that God assigned an angel of photography that day because he knew its value went well beyond monetary measures. He in his ultimate wisdom knew that this stranger’s photograph would warm two hearts and keep their spirits alive.
I know there is light in every dark room and God’s love to warm every spirit. The secret is, however, to be brave enough to open the door once it’s closed, so his grace may fill your heart with hope and purpose. It is for this purpose that I pray you see the light in your hours of uncertainty, and it is with certainty I can assure you it is there.
Exercise: Positive Snap Shot
What’s really important in life? Sitting on a beach? Watching television or realizing the journey we are taking is worthy and deserves our all? Today, think about what it is that you appreciate in your life and the snapshots worth saving.