I painted this portrait of my step-grandma, age 93, as a present for my step-mom on her birthday.
I thought and thought about how to write that out -- isn't there a less clunky way to say that? Less distancing terms for these women who are not my biological family, but whom I love and cherish with my whole heart?
I was always reluctant to use the word step-mom, at first because I was just a punk kid too caught up in my own drama to appreciate my dad's new marriage, and more importantly, the actual person who was his new wife. But later, after mellowing out (some), it still strikes me as an awkward way to describe a relationship.
Doing this portrait made me appreciate them all the more, the people that they are. Families who come together after divorce or death have to do double the work sometimes, and my stop-mom and step-grandma have always been gracious, generous, and kind. As I painted this portrait, I was struck again and again by how beautiful she is -- how our lives accumulate within us over time and intersect with others... how we create meaning, and meaningful bonds.
It was an honor to paint her; and it's funny that I made it as a birthday present, because I received such an amazing gift in doing it.