The Hand Mirror And My Mother’s Bun

Filomena de Irureta Goyena

As I make myself forward to a future that is so evidently a much shorter one than it once was I find myself thinking of my past and all my friends and relatives that I shared that past with. Increasingly those friends and relatives of more recent times have suffered a much shorter prospectus for a future than mine.

When I come into my present house the first thing I see is a Sterling silver mirror. I have affection for it because it was my mother’s.

Because we lived in a small house in my youth I believe I must have had a day bed of sorts. The fact is that I remember my mother getting ready to go to teach school. She would be in front of her tocador applying makeup and doing her hair. This was during the late 40s and early 50s. She had very straight hair which she hated. She wore a bun behind her much like that of her contemporary, Eva Perón. For those who might not know, in order to have that bun you had to carefully wrap your long hair around an artificial (it may have been real hair) doughnut shaped bun. She often would raise her voice in desperation when it didn’t work and she would have to try again. She used the silver hand mirror to look at how the bun was going. Before dealing with the bun she had a beautiful silver brush (which I also have) and she would brush and brush her hair. She often told me how her aunt Ventura would comb and comb her hair and she (my mother as a very young girl) would cry in pain. Her aunt Ventura would state, “In order to be a lady one must learn to experience pain.”

Soon after we arrived in Mexico in 1954 the bun disappeared and I never heard my mother complain again.

Photograph — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Link to: The Hand Mirror And My Mother’s Bun

Originally published at

Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:

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