My Homemade Mother's Day Gift

Thursday, April 28, 2011


     From his earliest recollection, the mirror had hung on the wall in the family room.  
     Originally, his father had noticed it sitting on a curb, adorned by a torn and curled nine by fourteen  inch sign carelessly ripped from a yellow legal pad and on it, printed in a hasty scribble, "FREE, TAKE ME."  His father had beamed with delight as he picked it up from the trash heap and laid it gingerly in the trunk of the car.  
     On that very evening, so he had been told, it took its place on the family room wall.  
     It was a large mirror with a highly polished wooden frame. Its gilded vines draped from intricately sculpted lotus blossoms in full bloom, twirling entanglements  from corner to corner and delicately weaving an alluring arrangement.    And despite its obvious age, the rich deep luster of the wood endured and the finish remained curiously unmarred.
      It was, by far, the most elegant object in the entire house, yet, he always felt it collided against the surrounding décor rather than complimenting it.  And despite the aesthetic adornment to an otherwise drab room, he abhorred it.  
     For from his earliest memories the mirror, which had always graced their wall, held an unusual but distinctive element that forbade a casual regard--a disquieting reflection it cast back at any who stood before it. 
     From across the room, the satiny wooden frame emitted a soft glow in the warm evening light. The gentle rise and fall of the sculpted encasement cast interesting shadows. The gilded Fleur-de-lis' clasping each crook and the golden piping encircling the silvered glass caught the eye of any within its line of vision and summoned a narcissistic desire to gaze upon their own reflection girdled in such an handsome frame.  But to those standing opposite the mirror, the reflector cast back a chilling distortion of the anticipated image.
      The image reflected was one of the gazer's bearing rather than their visage, and while the likeness was not always unpleasant or dark, it left one feeling naked, self-conscious and violated. It forced an unsolicited introspection at, what was often, a most inopportune moment and briefly stripped an otherwise secure individual of their dignity as it exposed any deceit or ill will and accentuated it in their reflected features.
      He had long since abandoned trying to ascertain a rational explanation for the mirror's peculiarity, which forced upon him, on more than one occasion, an utter abandonment of the romantic facade he would have rather retained of his own self-image; and as childhood stretched into manhood, he grew to detest the odious object and eschewed even the room upon whose wall it was perched.
      Its fascinating frame seemed to mock him as he passed by the room and beckon his attendance; it haunted his thoughts when he was away and manifested itself into his dreams, portraying secreted inclinations and unearthing buried aspects of his subliminal nature concealed even from his own subconscious. He loathed even the mention of the cursed reflector.
      Contrarily, his father appreciated the extraordinary looking glass. He examined his reflection regularly staring intently into its hazy faded depths with a discerning eye. He appeared desirous to glimpse its analytical reflection, and eagerly sought its critique yea, even beckoned its appraisal and pursued a path to realign his very nature so as to receive a better image and upon failing to receive one, he carefully assayed his motivation toward achieving the desired alteration of character.   
     So often he recalled the pained look of disappointment that passed over his father's face as he gazed intently into the metallic depths which spurred such perseverance  toward obtaining a better image reflected back to him.  His father never tired of the game, and from his earliest memory until the day his father died, he strove to perfect the image cast back at him.  
      He couldn't comprehend the incentive.
      He didn't hate the mirror in his earliest memories. As a small child he was entertained by the altered likeness he would sometimes see and spent countless hours grimacing and smiling in an attempt to change the appearance of the reflection he faced, not understanding the cause for the countenance reflected back at him.
       He recalled the exact moment he realized the image was not merely distorted. He had lied to his mother while standing in front of it and the mirror reflected the change in his face immediately. In horror he explained to his mother through choked sobs that he had lied to her and as is common with mothers, she held him close and told him it was okay, comforting him within his view of the mirror. He saw after confessing the truth in a desire to never to disappoint his mother again, his image had softened considerably.
      And despite the realization that the mirror had invaded his secret sentiments, it still held a certain fascination for him. And as his father, he would strive to toward trying to obtain a softer representation of himself. But frequently he found that acts of kindness did not always result in an improved image and on occasion, it even fell to a further distortion of the reflection that stared back at him. The realization was disconcerting and he began to avoid glimpsing at it as he passed through its reflective sphere and eventually, he avoided the entire room in which it hung.
      On this day, as he faced the mirror for the first time in several years, the anguish of losing his father showed through the disdain and anger he felt as he faced the image opposite him. He lifted up a piece of yellow paper with jagged edges, carelessly torn  from a dog-eared legal pad and smoothed the taped corners on the glass over the face of his reflected image.  The paper , printed in a hasty scribble, read "Free, take me."
      Forcefully he wrenched it from its catches anchored securely into the wall for several decades and carried it all the way through the front door, all the way through to the end of the lawn, to the curbside. He dropped it incautiously on the grass, propping it against the mail box next to a bag of refuse.    
     It would exit his life exactly as it had entered into his life from before his earliest memory. The yellow paper rustled against the glass in the afternoon breeze. He never looked back as got into his car and drove away, and later that day, when he returned to his father's house, the mirror was forever removed from his life.