Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sunday Scribble - Morning MOURNING and Moving Forward

As I write this, it has been two weeks since mom's passing. This is the first weekend of the rest of my life without a parent. The loss of both parents, though six years apart, leave such an unexpected void. Taking the presence of parents for granted feels very normal. I had my dad for 53 years. I had my mom for 58 years. Such a strong presence isn't easily filled.

My relationship with my mom was a close one. The last three years were closer still and since July, intensely close. On reflection, my life has gone from big picture, to sharp narrow focus, to an absolute pinprick of focused tunnel vision. Each narrowing of my attention to her took something away from me but it was something I gladly let go of.

It wasn't always easy and, in fact, was often tiring and frustrating for both of us. The last three months have been painful like the slow peeling away of a band-aide. We "know" a quick tug is best and it's over with quickly but when it is about the letting go of a life, I dont think there is a right or wrong way. There is just a "way". I know that if I had given up or given in to the inevitable right away, I would have missed so much.

I would have missed the chance to encourage her to fight for the return of her strength; I would have missed mom making a connection with Doris and their handholding friendship and her pleasure in seeing "The Sound of Music" once more on Margie's TV. I would have missed giving her a manicure, hand & foot massages, quiet moments of just looking at each other. Those final humms of song the day before her death would have been missed. I would not have had the chance to slowly assimilate the closing of her life and come to a degree of acceptance. And most of all, we would not have had the chance to be with her in a peaceful good-bye and the certain knowledge that dad, along with mom's own parents were all welcoming her home.

So, what now . . . . .?





One of the things I've lost over the years is my motivation to do anything creative. My focus, almost 100%, has been on the needs of my mother. While I was losing my creative motivation, I was more importantly, losing my mother in bits and pieces. To see your parent go from healthy and active to helpless in an instant is painful beyond imagining until you are actually experiencing it. You lose more than your parent; you lose a part of yourself, your ability to continue the normal parent/child relationship that never really leaves no matter how old you are. Your parent is your parent.

Over the last couple of days, I've become aware of an empty space within me that before now was occupied by my mother. Suddenly I find myself without daily purpose beyond work and husband and daughter. Suddenly there is all this room within me and I don't know what to do with it.

Last spring I managed to commit to taking an on-line art journal class through Artella and I actually completed quite a lot of the work that was assigned. But then the class was over and the motivation was gone. And then mom tripped and I was consumed and overwhelmed by the urgency to fix her, make her strong again, SAVE her. It took me three months of peeling away the layers of painful reality to let go of the hope of recovery from such a simple thing, a trip in the bathroom, and its dire consequences.

So this morning I awoke, knowing for two days that this would be the first weekend of the rest of my life without my mother OR my father. Last weekend didn't count. She was still with us as we planned her funeral. This weekend is the start of something entirely new. What will I do? Now what? The question is like a huge gong echoing in my head.

Actually, the change started last night. I took out my art journal for the first time in six months. There is a page in progress now and it will be interesting to see where it ends up. But this morning at 5:30 I had another idea.

I love the old gas pumps I found a few months ago and the photo was begging for a conversion. First to B/W. Then I went to work with software and pastels. The watercolor effect please me but I don't feel connected to the color. Next step, print the B/W on watercolor paper, use my WC pencils, blend, and frame. Perhaps that will provide a storng feeling of being connected to the piece.

I'm surprised at the number of parents who discourage their children from pursuing artistic/creative careers. I see it every year as the newest group of muisc majors enter our program. Mom never discouraged me. I was my own worst enemy and self-discouraged literally for decades. When I was most separated emotionally from my creative impulses, she was always there encouraging me. I think mom would be very happy with me today.

20 comments:

the Caitlinator said...

Your artwork is beautiful, as are your words. As I was reading your post, the first impulse I had was that now the focus needs to be on yourself. And what better way to nurture yourself than by allowing yourself the freedom to explore creative outlets and colors and textures and designs? Your mom I know would wish this for you and is surely smiling on you from wherever she is today. You, I am positive, make her prouder every minute.

trailbee said...

"The artist produces for the liberation of his soul. It is his nature to create as it is the nature of water to run down hill." W. Somerset Maughm, The Summing Up (1938). Your entire creative being for the last year was directed and expended for your mom. It was just a different form, and I believe you were extremely successful. I think you're going through a period of anti-climax, and with time you will find your way. Consider me your biggest fan and cheerleader. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

I think you will grow and blossom with your renewed enthusiasm for expressing your creative side. The pump picture is wonderful, Annie, and I think that art journal of your is going to be brimful soon.

Rethabile said...

Annieelf,
I can relate. It sounds to me like you're well on your way back. You can never really spring back from a loss of love, but can accomodate it and move ahead. With art and your strength, the trip is half made.

Rosa said...

Annie: I can relate so much with you. My mom (now 82) moved in with us three years ago. Her health is good but her mind is beginning to slow quite rapidly. She has her good days and her bad. I stop and try and remind myself, when I'm tired, that she won't be with me forever and to cherish each moment with her--good or not so good. Thank you for reminding us, with parents still living, that we need to enjoy them but it's ok to admit it is tiresome at times--just like we were to them, right? I worry so much about that void you're talking about. I know it's inevitable, but I am so afraid of that day when she's no longer with me.

With all that said, I can't wait to see your creative juices flowing again.

AnnieElf said...

You are right, Rosa. There were many times when I found myself thinking of mom as have the independence, swiftness, and fearlessness of a three year old. It was such a role reversal. But patience was the key and there was a lot of laughter because of her unexpected antics. She simply continued to behave like she was perfectly healthy.

hundred and one said...

I am so sorry about your mum. I was really touched reading this. Thank you for sharing {{{hugs}}}

Elspeth said...

I agree with hundred and one: what you wrote was very moving. Towards the end when you mentioned gas pumps I felt that they were more than just a subject for your artwork. The fact that they popped into your head at 5:30 in the morning is more like a message ... saying that creativity is the gas pump that will refuel you and fill the "room within you that you don't know what to do with."

herhimnbryn said...

As I read your words I kept thinking mmmmm, I wonder what her Mum would want her to do this 'first' weekend? And you found the perfect thing A. She was there besdie you, encouraging you.
She would be proud too.

Thankyou for sharing such a heart-felt and personal issue.

paris parfait said...

Annie, turning to your art is a wonderful idea! You have real talent, as evidenced in your gas pumps image here. Yes, your life is very different now. And no doubt your mom would be pleased that you've picked up the mantle of your early artistic talent. Your post is beautiful and heartfelt - thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I look forward to seeing more of your art.

Beth said...

What a wonderful post Annie. And I know your Mom is glad that your creating again. It does help with the pain by creating something pretty and cool like the picture you just did! Awesome job Sweet Annie!!

JavaCurls said...

I hope you continue to find the strength, courage and motivation to create your beautiful art. I'm sure your mother is smiling knowing that your creating again. Thanks for sharing!

Janet said...

This showed such deep emotion and I could feel your pain. But I could also feel your strength and your enthusiasm beginning to come back to yourself. I think you are definitely on the right track. Creating can be so cathartic.

Lisa (oceandreamer) said...

oh Annie how this tugged at my heart...how deep in to your soul it came from. I really believe you can move forward with a renewed purpose and art is quite healing indeed. I know your mother knew of your devotion, just as my mother knows of mine. They only want our happiness...I know your mother is pleased knowing you are looking ahead in the face of picking up your creativity. And never, never will that dimish her presence that remains in your heart. She may even be your biggest inspiration to keep going and fill up that void with color.
Much love.
Lisa

Anonymous said...

Your mom is smiling down at you Annie. Make some art for her...

Ally Bean said...

Art heals. As does time [trite, but true].

I've been where you are, and won't lie and say that all will be the same sans parents. But I do know that things can be good again-- just different. And who's to say that your parents aren't with you in your art?

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

Healing allows the creative wonder to burst and explore! Wonderfully illustrated in your post!! Brava!!

Maryellen said...

I'm a mom, and I'm proud of you Annie. Really proud of you finding this path. This is wonderful that you are opening to the healing therapeutic powers of art.

Big hugs ((((((Annie))))))

Anonymous said...

You brought tears to my eyes. I only hope that I can be so strong when the time comes for me to care for my parents in such a way.

meg said...

Your writings are profound and moving Annie. You are such a wonderful source of strength for those around you.