Mother’s Portrait

Mother – Oil Painting 16×20 on Linen Panel – by Winifred Whitfield

It was Mother’s Day 2014 when I took this last photo of my mom. She passed some months later. She holds the roses she’d received; she’s wearing the sly smile so familiar and the little diamond necklace, but otherwise the details have been altered. It was difficult to paint this portrait , to be able to look at it and to recognize and to “feel” the person, whom I loved and who loved me all my life.

She was a great lady. She taught first grade for 40 years and loved it. I was a child when she went away to school several summers completing a few courses each year, working toward, then completing a Masters Degree in Education. That prompted me to decide I would get 2 Masters Degrees – though not in education. I didn’t know at the time how fortunate I was. My parents always owned a home and two cars. Her parents always owned a home as well. I always knew I would be well supported and my education would be paid for. I took this security for granted. I thought at the time it normal to complete high school and then college as prerequisite to even thinking about a job. It’s funny, but actually a little sad that my first job was with a State Employment Security Division, Youth Opportunity Center, whose sole purpose was finding jobs for teenagers. I could not understand why the high school grads and drop outs were looking for work; they hadn’t finished college! I learned about lifestyles very different from mine. Within a year or so, I headed to grad school.

My mom provided me with unconditional love and support. Without limitation, I was told I could be anything I wanted to be. Race was not even discussed as a limitation. My self esteem has always been in tact. Without exception, I saw and still see segregationist and racist, as very ignorant people. I was born in the South but it doesn’t matter – racism is and always has been everywhere in this country. To judge by skin color really is pretty stupid. With my mom, I always felt I had a safety net.

I loved my mom. I miss her, but all that she did and all that she gave continues to live on.

12 thoughts on “Mother’s Portrait

  1. What a nice tribute and a beautiful portrait! I found the same support with my mother. Although race wasn’t the issue, I was adopted by my parents as a newborn with a birth defect. I received the same unconditional love and was told the same thing even though for the first 11 years of my life I had a terrible speech impediment. I understand where you are coming from and your post reminds me of how much I miss my Mom too.

    • Thank you Nancy. What lucky parents to have chosen you! A speech impediment for years – I’m shocked. There’s not the slightest hint. Oh yes, and you were very fortunate also!! W

  2. A beautiful tribute, Winifred. And I believe you captured the “sly smile” perfectly!
    My mother has been gone for around 5 years, but I, too, was told I could be anything I wished.
    I also had unconditional love and support always. Winifred, we are, indeed, the lucky ones.

  3. You have captured your mother beautifully. The painting is lovely. I remember your mother and the firmness of her being and warmth of her soul. She was a magnificent woman who was regal in her manner and as no-nonsense as she was gracious and generous. And she has a daughter who is the same. What you wrote honors her, as it should. Your words certainly bring forth a longing in us all for our mothers and their strength and unconditional love. Thank you. You did good.

    • Maria, I don’t remember when you met my mother though your words indicate you definitely did. No nonsense indeed!! Thank you for all. W

  4. The portrait is lovely and well done like all your work .. your Mom is beautiful .. you are an awesomely wonderful person, you inspire me with your words and your art and I am VERY grateful to know you. I can only imagine how much you must miss her .. HUGS .. this portrait and your words about her are a wonderful & loving tribute to her! Thank you for sharing with us!!!

  5. Lovely image. I am sure she enjoyed seeing all of your accomplishments and experiences, that she enabled by her support of your abilities.

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