I wonder if any of us can really know our own origin story. Most of us have a limited understanding of our parents’ lives, and they of theirs, back through the generations. Impressions and assumptions become fact through re-telling. Memory itself is selective and slippery. Are the stories we tell closer to legend and lore than truth? Don’t most lives contain some mystery and contradiction? I can tell you a lot of details of my mother’s life, but I am still struggling to understand her.

And so I turned to the things she left behind. There isn’t a lot, which perhaps gives each object more significance. There is some special connection that occurs when I hold in my hands something she often held in hers. Even though these mute objects can’t answer my questions, their very substance reassures me. They somehow prove that she was here.

These objects that remain are emblems of a complex life. My mother was proud of her Irish heritage, steadfast in her Catholic faith, dedicated to her family, and longing. Always longing.

- Dorothy Brown

This series won a Portfolio Award in the 2017 Art of Living Photography Show.

Visit Dorothy Brown’s site