05/07/2014 11:57 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What They Pass On, From Our Mothers

My mother's life had been one far beyond anything I could ever hope to cover here, and she has remained a woman that to her last day, was intriguing and unpredictable.


One constant, however, and all six of her children would agree, is the very first image we see in our minds when we remember her.


Fashion hound.


In a lace-up number on the far right.


Fashion queen.


The one who always took on the camera, straight ahead.


In fashion statements.


With her face here, so beautiful.


She was from Colombia, South America. Always the one who dressed in what she found to be fashionable, and her taste? Seeing her from my child's eyes convinced me that you are born with style know-how and if not, you can try to learn it, but it is an essence, a predisposition and a whimsical gift that you can recognize instantly on someone else, if they are the ones who have it.

She, in her suits, always paired with a stare that left you with no doubt, she knew exactly how she was seen.

My mother was not *book-learned* with her sense of style, it was innate. Had any of us ever had the chance to skip into her dreams at just the right timed moment, I believe that we'd even find her in her subconscious, floating in gowns and sheaths straight from the pages of Vogue magazine.

My mother was from a time and a place when Coty's Red Revival lip color, gold hoops, and two hair combs were all you needed.

My mother is on the left in black and a strand of pearls, my father is crouched below her, looking up into her splendor.


It is with this knowledge of my mother, armed with the technicolor memories of her platform sandals and silk neck scarves, that make me smile proudly that I was her daughter. I can be dressed in ankle cuffed jeans, a black T-shirt, Converse tennis shoes, and I will hear her words in my mind, "Your pants, they could be farmer's. And is that T-shirt your husband's? Are you here without earrings and how pale you look with no lipstick. Mi'ja, that is not how the women of our country dress."

I miss this.

And more than missing these words, I miss the voice, with the exact diction, that reminds me of the Colombian stock I come from.