Lillian Hellman wrote a book called Pentimento -- about looking back over your life and seeing things again through the news lens of being older (and wiser). Pentimento, she says in the book, is when a painter "repents" and paints again --- and that as paint fades on and old canvas, a boat gives way to a dog, showing how the painter had rethought -- repainted -- repented and painted again.
This Thanksgiving, my niece is here, and she is repainting --refurbishing -- a painting of my mother (her grandmother) that was painted by her mother (my sister) 41 years ago. My sister (her mother) went to the Art Institute in Chicago during the 1960s. Her style of painting was very much Andy Warhol, so the painting of my/our mother (my niece's grandmother) is in stunning bright colors (which had faded, faded over the years) and my mother is evoked through a very few, very strong lines.
My sister, my niece's mother, died in 1999. My mother, my niece's grandmother, died in 1990. It is very touching for me to have my niece here, bringing my mother and her mother's painting to life again. As my niece ages (she is now 36, and wasn't born when her mother, my sister, painted our mother/her grandmother) she looks more and more like my sister. It seems like my sister is painting our mother again.
And because my niece is here this Thanksgiving, repainting her mother's painting, there is lots of opportunity for "pentimento..." thinking again about my mother, her grandmother, my sister, her mother and our different views of both of them. We both love(d) both of them very much.