It has been awhile since I posted, and since I sat in my studio creating.
A two week sojourn in Vancouver visiting my eldest daughter and family and then, the long drive home.
I love the 1,000 km drive up over the Coastal Rockies, across the lake country, up over Roger’s Pass, Kicking Horse Pass and the Rockies down the eastern slopes and onto the rolling plains. I love the solitude, the sense of being alone yet part of the ribbon of highway leading me eastward, leading me home.
As I drive, I love to listen to podcasts. One in particular, ‘On Being‘ with Krista Tippet.
The interview she did with Dario Roletto who has been called a sculptural artist, philosopher, and “materialist poet” continues to resonate. In it, Robletto talks about the power of memory to connect us.
It is that thought which inspired my latest two-page spread in the altered book journal, “My Mother’s Prayers,” that I have been creating for the past month or so.
Time is not the thread that binds. Memory is.
I don’t have a lot of memories of my grandmother. I only met her once. She came from India where she lived when we were living in Metz, France. She stayed with us for a month and while with us, I remember her always sneaking my brother and sisters and I money to go buy something ‘sweet’. At least, that’s what I think I remember her saying.
I don’t know if she had a sweet tooth or not. I don’t remember.
What I do remember is being fascinated by this woman who was my mother’s mother who lived in such a far away and exotic land. I remember how she dressed mostly in black. How she fluttered her hands when she spoke, just like my mother and how, when we went to Paris to visit her sons who lived there, she sat in regal grace amidst her vast extended family.
I remember the story of my Uncle Noel getting a plague from the police for his excellent driving and how everyone scoffed and laughed when it happened.
The day he got the award, the police were assessing drivers on the roads of Paris in an attempt to identify those who were obeying the rules of the road (a very uncommon practice in Paris) in an effort to encourage safe driving practices. My uncle had picked up Grandmother from the airport and was driving her back to Uncle Reggie’s apartment. An unmarked police car followed him, just that once, and he was awarded a safe driver citation. It was the only time in his driving career he did not speed, swear and gesture belligerently at other drivers and ignore all the road signs.
I also think that was the trip my brother stayed home alone for the first time. He ended up having a party that created quite a mess in our home. We brought Grandmother from Paris on that trip and when we entered the apartment and dad saw the mess, he was furious. Grandmother calmed him and thanks to her, George was not punished for his misdeeds.
It is perhaps that escapade that cemented the notion that ‘the sun rises and sets on the son’ in our household. Unfortunately, that notion would lead to a number of incidents and life travails that left him ill-equipped to handle the pressure.
But that’s another story.
This story is about my mother, my grandmother and me — Granddaughter. Daughter. Mother. Grandmother.
Just like my mother and grandmother. It is the thread of our being all of those roles that binds us. Unbreakable. Unchangeable. Inviolate.
As I journey through my mother’s prayer cards and my process of healing the ‘mother wound’ through remembering and honouring her life, her death and her memory through creative expression, I find myself softening. Ripening. Opening. Evolving.
It is a journey. An exploration. An awakening.
And I am grateful for it all.
About this art piece.
“My Mother’s Prayers” incorporates the multitude of prayer cards that my mother collected throughout her life to guide her nightly prayers.
On every two page spread I include at least one card — some you can see, some I paint over entirely.
Throughout her life, my mother prayed. At times, I mocked her for her practice. Often, I challenged her offerings. It wasn’t until after I became a mother that my heart began to soften and understand her desire to keep me safe.
This page is about the trinity of being a daughter, mother, grandmother. Before affixing the heart behind the images of my grandmother, mother and me to the page, I tore it into three pieces and then reconnected it on the page.
Like life, our hearts can be hurt, feel heavy and broken. Yet, no matter how broken we feel, a mother’s heart is always open. Proving the adage true — a broken heart is an open heart and an open heart is a loving heart.
My mother loved deeply. Working on this journal is awakening me to her love on a very deep level.
Written on the upper right section of the heart are the words:
“Three pieces. One heart. Three lives. One song. Three stories. One prayer.”
My mother’s prayers whisper throughout time. They are the memory that binds us. The love that holds us. The gift that lives on.