Sunday, May 02, 2021

A Mothers’ Day Card I Should Have Drawn For My Mother When She Was Alive

Stuart K. Hayashi 

 I started drawing this on paper on March 13, 2021. The paper version was “finished” on April 15. Thereafter, I worked on it in Microsoft Paint until April 22. I know that it will seem, at first glance to many people, to be something that is just for children. But, for me, it has a more personal meaning. It is the Mothers’ Day or birthday card that I should have drawn for my mother before she died on January 12 of this year.


Mom and Her Greeting Cards
My late mother put a huge emphasis on exchanging greeting cards every holiday. As I wrote on this blog before, I wasn’t a fan of this; it’s not as though the person giving the card drew the picture and wrote the contents. It seems my mother took that to heart. In later years, she often wrote a personalized note inside the card. When I neglected to get Mom a card for an occasion, my father would insistently buy one and demand I give it to her. Mom could always tell when I really did get her a card, as the ones I chose had cutesy imagery in them.

My mother never really understood my drawing dragons and monsters, even though, months before she died, I tried to explain the psychology of it to her. (I always felt like an outcast, but it didn’t make me feel weak. I felt rejected largely because of my imagination, which I considered powerful. A monster is a perfect symbol of an outcast feared for its power.) But Mom was still supportive of my art, and she did really like my cutesy drawings.

In 2010, I actually did draw my own Mothers’ Day card for Mom. Strangely, though, I took a character I normally draw in a cutesy fashion (the baby dragon in this particular drawing) and made him look a bit scary.

This dragon mom and her son I have rendered recently is the holiday card I should have given Mom. I feel guilty in that I could have drawn this for her any time in the past few years, even though the technique would have been much less sophisticated. It doesn’t console me to be told that Mom would have loved it. I am sure she would have, but that makes me feel all the guiltier for not having drawn this for her when she was alive.


Aside From My Not Having Been As Thoughtful As I Should Have Been, Other Reasons I Did Not Draw This Sooner
There were several factors working against my doing this drawing sooner, other than my not acting sufficiently on the knowledge that my mother’s time on earth was limited.

The first factor is that it was not until relatively recent that I had an idea of what I wanted a sufficiently cute and feminine “mother dragon” to look like and felt confident in drawing it. That was in March of 2019 when I did this drawing in attempt to impress another, much younger mother.

Then there is the second factor that worked against my doing this sooner. That factor is that this drawing was inspired by yet another one I did when I was six years old. I probably would not have done this drawing sooner had I not seen the older one. On a day without school, I woke up and was saddened that Mom was not home and would be gone day. I told Dad that I didn’t know what I would do without her. Since Dad knew of my already having the habit of drawing and writing my own picture books, he said, “How about ‘The Sad Boy That Wanted His Mother to Come Home’?” And that is exactly the book I made, down to the title.

The drawing style was what you would expect of a six-year-old. Both at the end and on the title page, upon the mother’s return home, the boy jumps into her arms. The mother- and son dragons’ positions in relation to one another, and their sizes in relation to one another, are based on the mother and son from my “The Sad Boy That Wanted Mother to Come Home.” I’m embarrassed to admit that I forgot about this particular drawing, and only remembered it as an indirect consequence of Mom’s death. Upon her death, I wanted comfort. Seeking it, I unearthed the box she put together of the picture books I made at age six — picture books I made with her encouragement.

Only then did I see the drawing of the boy in his mother’s arms.


I’m also embarrassed to admit that I had not seen this drawing, I wouldn’t have thought of something as simple as the baby son dragon being cradled in his mom’s arms.


When it comes to my failure to draw and give this card to mom in her lifetime, there are only two thoughts that come close to consoling me. First is that Mom knew I was the sort of person who would want to pay tribute to her in this fashion, albeit my doing it much later than I should have. Secondly, I was frustrated in my mother’s final two months because she wanted me to help her attend to my disabled father. This took time away from my drawing. If my mom had to choose between my working on this holiday card for her versus helping her with Dad — which I did do — she would have chosen the latter. For her, the cards and my drawing this for her would be a great symbol of my love for her; my helping her with everyday activities, which she did see me do in the end, was a concrete demonstration of that love.