I spent the weekend in my studio.
I am content.
It was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday and even though yesterday the sun snuck out from behind grey clouds, I couldn’t stop what I was doing. I was immersed in the process and having too much fun! Plus, I was using the collage technique I learned at Jonathan Talbot’s workshop — and what can be more fun than using new knowledge to create?
August 30th is my mother’s 92nd birthday. I would like to say that she is strong and happy and doing well, but that would not be true. Her mind is sharp as a tack but her body is frail and fragile and failing. Quickly.
Other than arthritis, and the fact of age, there is no medical cause for her faltering well-being. It is more an ennui born of everyday sadness, losses she has never been able to comprehend, and the fact she has basically stopped eating.
My mother is sad and neither my sisters nor I are powerful enough to lift the sadness that envelops her.
Which is why I spent the weekend creating something I hope will put a smile on her heart and give her some happiness.
Like mother’s everywhere, my mother loves to show off her family. To tell people of what her children and grandchildren are doing, to demonstrate how accomplished in the world we all are, how our lives have turned out well.
In the past, I created a shadow box of her life. It hangs on the wall of her room which means, she can’t carry it with her. S0 this weekend, I created an accordion book of her life. Something small and compact that she can put in the basket of her walker and can carry with her where ever she goes if she chooses.
And here’s the thing. In putting photos of her brother’s and sisters, parents, as well as my sisters and brother, I had to decide whether or not to include photos of my nieces, my brother’s daughters. I wanted to. She loves them dearly, but since my brother and his wife’s death in 1997 there has been little to no contact between my mother and her granddaughters. Eighteen and nineteen at the time of their parents’ passing, my nieces were in no shape to comprehend my mother’s grief at the death of her only son. And my mother was not emotionally strong enough to put aside her tears to be able to help them through theirs.
A gap appeared between them. Over the years, it has turned into an abyss and for my mother, that abyss is a deep dark wound of loss and grief and sorrow.
Do I or don’t I include their photos? I asked both my sisters.
We all agreed that to do so would only cause our mother pain. She cannot talk of her two lost grand-daughters without crying and if there is one thing my mother doesn’t need more of in her life, it’s tears.
And so, I left out these two beautiful young women who are part of the warp and weave of our family.
I didn’t want to. I am not particularly good at ‘pretending’ something isn’t what it is. They are part of our family and to leave them out doesn’t change that fact.
I’m also a realist.
To include their photos in a book she will want to show everyone will only leave her open to having to talk about her grand-daughters with whom she has no contact. And that will make her cry.
It was the loving thing to do for my mother and the right thing to do for her heart.