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Mom pregnant with me, and her cat

Mother’s Day can be a loaded holiday for those of us without moms. On this day every year, I am extra aware of not having had a mom for a really long time.

She was 48 and I was 23 when she died. She was 26 when I was born. I’ve had 36 Mother’s Days without her. For 29 of these years I’ve been a mother myself.


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My whole adult life I’d thought I was allergic to dogs. Our kids would beg for a dog, and I’d say, “It’s a dog or me, your choice!” Besides being allergic, I’d thought of a dog as just another thing I’d need to take care of. I was actually ‘anti-dog’: If you brought your dog to our house, it had to stay outside. Even if it was cold out. I was ruthless! I didn’t know the names of my friends’ dogs. Dogs simply didn’t matter to me. AT ALL. My friend Ann loves to tell the story of how when her dog died, I wrote her a condolence note saying something like, “I can’t relate at all, but I wanted to acknowledge that I know this must be a really sad time for you.” …


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Me and Peter in Bali

My husband Peter and I have been married for 31 years this August 9. Anyone who’s telling the truth knows that being married for a long time is NOT EASY. We’ve hit the wall many times, but we somehow manage to climb over and come out okay on the other side. So when I see couples getting married, I wonder if they have any idea about the hard work it takes to STAY married.

The sweet couple who rents the apartment on our property got married recently at Red Gate Farm, down the road from our house. I’d asked Sydney, the bride, if I could take a photo of her on their porch as I am a sucker for a beautiful bride. And beautiful flowers. …


My birthday made me wonder: How do I age with grace?

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All illustrations by Gayle Kabaker

I recently turned 60. I sure don’t feel 60 and I’m told I don’t look it, but the milestone made me wonder: How do I age with grace? My mother died when she was 48 and I was 23, so I wasn’t able to watch her age when I was an adult.

Mom went gray very young. She was quite beautiful and wore her hair short, salt-and-pepper with a chic white swooping forelock. I can tell from old photos that she was more stylish when I was a kid. (You can see it in the painting below from an epic family trip to Israel, Lebanon, and Europe — she’s wearing a super cute dress I’d sure love to have now.) By the time I was a teenager, her daily uniform was corduroy jeans, crew neck sweatshirts, and maybe a white button-down shirt, loafers, or tennis shoes. She rarely wore more than mascara and lipstick. …


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My husband needed quadruple bypass surgery. While he was in the hospital, I was scared, so I drew.

I drew what I saw, and I took photos to draw from later.

These are the drawings.

Getting ready for surgery was super scary.


Art Matters

I saw the new Michael Moore movie last night Fahrenheit 11–9. It deeply affected me. I hope you go see it ASAP. I came away thinking what can I do to help people get out to vote?

As artists we have the ability to connect and touch people with our work. I created the super hero art for an editorial in the Washington Post that ran the weekend of the last women’s march. That’s my dog Charlie. Yeah. He’s a Super Dog. I planned to do a whole series of super heroes but then life and work ‘got in the way.’ …


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In the world of illustration, having my art on the cover of the New Yorker is kinda like the top of the mountain. A huge accomplishment. A hole in one. A major coup. A tour de force. ( yes I looked up ‘big accomplishment’ synonyms and chose the ones that I liked :) It’s also feels a bit like a miracle as I know so many amazing artists submit great ideas all the time. As a matter of fact, I’ve SEEN some of these ideas and it makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and just give up. They are so good! And THESE are rejections? …

About

Gayle Kabaker

Illustrator | writer | www.gkabaker.com

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