Like My Mom


“Those paintings remind me of Mom.”

We were sitting in my living room and my brother was looking at three of my paintings that were hanging on the wall. It was so touching to hear him say that because in that very moment I had a huge epiphany.

“Yeah they do look like Mom.” I said. “I think I’m always painting Mom.”

Wow. I have never said those words before but they suddenly were the truest words I’ve ever spoken. I am always painting Mom.

People ask me all the time if my paintings are self-portraits or they ask me who the woman is in my paintings and I never have a good answer. No they are not meant to be self-portraits and I have no idea who she is. But I paint her over and over.

I’ve been thinking about my mother a lot lately. We lost our mother in 1999 to Alzheimer’s disease and she had been suffering with it for about 10 years. So in essence, I lost my Mom when I was 19.

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I had a tricky relationship with her. She was older when she had me and also was a little old-fashioned so I always kinda wished I had a younger, hipper Mom. The Mom who goes shopping with you and gets manicures with you and chit-chats with your friends. But that’s not what I got.

So I was bratty and pulled away from her. I was a moody and sullen teenager and then suddenly she was sick. Maybe that’s the way all teenagers are but the part that is the most difficult for me in retrospect is that I never got to rectify that. I wanted to know her and love her and make it up to her but I couldn’t. She was no longer there. If any of you have experienced Alzheimer’s then you know what I’m talking about. That person is still there, but they are no longer THERE.

It’s only been recently that I’ve come to realize all of this. I have a giant Mom-sized hole in my heart. No one else can fill it. I guess that’s why I paint. I have so much to express and painting is the best way I know how. I wish I could talk to her. Tell her that I’m sorry I was such a crappy teenager who didn’t appreciate her. But I can’t, so I paint.

My mother was a beautiful, spiritual person. I’m told sometimes that I look like her and that makes me proud. I know I have her hands so when I look down right now and see my fingers typing on my laptop I am grateful for the woman that brought me into this world. The woman who sacrificed everything to raise her kids and love them without condition. She was funny and silly but my memories of her are fuzzy.


Vina Chavez Olguin, my mother in the 40s.

She’s in my heart. I know her spirit dwells within me. I hold tight to that. It’s all I have. And I will continue to feel the spectrum of feelings that come when I think of her. That’s how life goes. Sometimes painful but it’s those gritty parts that make up who we are.

This is a hard post for me to share but I’m realizing more and more that it is only through the sharing of our truth that we are truly able to connect as human beings. My paintings and my writings are my meager offerings to the universe. And as I write this, I realize that it is all part of my healing process. Approximately 26 years of healing and every day is one step forward.



  1. Odette Chavez-Anaya on November 29, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    You and I are first cousins and yet we really don’t know each other. After reading this about Tia Vina makes me realize what a beautiful person you are! Inside and out. I connected with you on not having a young Mom and wanting more!! It’s not till they are gone that we can truly appreciate what we had and use that to move us forward. So nice to get to know you!! 😘

    • DeAnne Olguin Williamson on November 29, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      Thank you for the beautiful note Odette. I am so glad you can relate and even happier that you reached out. Hopefully we can connect one time when I’m in New Mexico.

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