Friday, April 17, 2009

I am Carole's Daughter too....

My mother--after a contentious battle with cancer--is in the last days of her life. She is in the hospital; they are making her 'comfortable'. I can't be sure what 'comfort' there is...esp. when I realize that she is only 65. Such a relatively young age. Five years ago, my father succumbed to cancer;he was 62.
Every day the news is full of stories of children,teens,young people whose lives are all too brief and end too soon. In the context of that.... my father and mother at 62 and 65 have lived reasonably long lives. They have lived wonderful lives that were filled with family,friends,children,grandchildren and so many experiences that most people never have. They were, in their way, blessed......
I have had a lifelong tumultuous relationship with my mother. There were times when we felt like we were competing with each other; there were times when we were almost friends... Through it all, I have never lost sight of the fact that my mother was always a strong,independent and fiercely loving person... My father--who we lovingly called 'the bear' always pointed out that my mother was 'the she-bear': she would take on anyone and anything in her protection of family and home. And she often did.
I think, even as I know that I am a reflection of my father...I am more my mother's daughter than I wanted to admit when I was younger. We railed against each other; we fought for control, but we were both trying to be our own women. She had ideals for how and what her daughter should be and I had aspirations and dreams that fell somewhere outside of her ideals. We battled mercilessly. But we also found ways to love each other and forge a respect for each other.
We battled with each other throughout this illness. What I wanted and needed locked horns with what she wanted and needed. And again, somehow we managed to make moments of peace and joy within our family.
I had had little idea that my mother's health was deteriorating as rapidly as it had been. (That was one of our battles: her secret-keeping when it came to her health issues.) Easter Sunday I knew she hadn't been doing well. She came to my house and shared a wonderful family dinner with us. She ate little, but she talked and laughed and joked with my boys. The Saturday before Easter, she'd done the same with my sister's family. She obviously knew something.
By Tuesday night she was in the hospital.
Wednesday she told my sister and I that she realized she was a rich woman where it counted...she cited the loves of her life: my dad and her partner John; her daughters; her sons-in-law and her beautiful grandsons and all her friends.
And that was when it became absolutely clear to me that I am Carole's daughter too. I too believe that my family and my friends are my wealth and I am a rich woman for having them. AndI am richest of all for having had her for a mother.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tollipop Giveaway...

If I do this link thing correctly then clicking here: will take you to a lovely little blog with some adorable artwork being given away.
That, in itself, would be worth the effort...but the blog is so worth a read and a look---several, in fact. It's wonderful. I know I will certainly be going back there again...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Blessings...

Every year--for the last four years--I host an egg hunt in my yard for my nieces,nephews and friends kids, as well. At least 200+ eggs get filled with candy and hidden around my yard. And I spend weeks planning themed gifty-knick-knacky baskets for the kiddoes and the moms too.

One year, I did mixing bowl 'baskets' for the moms with recipe cards and colourful spoons, etc. Another year, I decoupaged terracotta flowerpots with layers of tiny scrapbook paper squares and then glazed them in sepia tones and filled them with flower seed packets, garden gloves and tools from the dollar store.

The kids get plastic pails filled with toys or craft stuff. This year--for the girls--I've put together little scrapbook kits with books and paper and glitter glue. And for the boys--it's bags of magic tricks and gag items (like plastic dog poop). For the littlest boy--my nephew Brian--it's little toys he'll love, like trucks and little animals and bubbles.

It sounds like a lot of work, but I love doing it. I love seeing the kids tearing around the yard searching for the eggs. I love hearing from the moms about how much they all look forward to it every year.

This will sound a bit odd, but I think my big old house loves it too. There's something about this house--ever since we bought it and moved here (and maybe even before that, when I'd drive by it and imagine one day living in it)--it loves family. The chaos and squabbles; the quiet calm; the mess; the fun; the sorrows; the noise...everything. I think this house thrives on it. It just glows from within and radiates a love and joy. Is that true of all old farmhouses or just mine in particular? I felt--from the first day we realized that our dream of owning this house might come true--that this house wanted us as much as we wanted it. Soulmates with a house? I told you this would sound odd.

This house has been in my hubands family for over 100 years and maybe, that's it....the echoes of all previous generations of this family...experiencing life in all it's aspects and it continues and moves forward and new generations live and eat and sleep and work and play and run around the yard searching for hidden easter eggs and retrieving baskets of goodies....

A cycle, a renewal, a continuation.

Yesterday morning I dyed eggs with my little nephew Brian with food colouring and white crayons and rubberbands. We had so much fun. He was overjoyed to be able to watch the eggs turn colours and reveal designs we'd drawn, etc. I remembered doing this same thing with my own sons when they were his age. They're 17 now. I asked them if they remembered dyeing eggs with me. They did; they recalled making egg animals with stickers and such. And I knew that that was my Easter gift...that, even at 17, my sons hold a memory of something so simple and special. I think that someday they will carry that forward...and this sweet old house will never have to echo with anything but continued generations and cycles of family and love.

My Easter wish.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It's All Going To The Birds...

My father taught me --and I've always believed--that nature has ways of 'speaking' to us. In the past, when we lived lives that were closer to and more in tune with the Earth we could 'hear' Nature's voice so much easier. My father was a tremendous history buff and storyteller who extensively researched and studied the lore of the Native peoples. He loved Nature and animals; had spent part of his boyhood on an uncles farm and once dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. Life had other plans and instead of becoming a vet; he found an expression for his love of animals and nature through his art.
He believed in totem animals; as known by the Native Americans and also by his and my own Celtic ancestors. And he believed in 'animal wisdom'. That if an animal keeps appearing to you it has a wisdom to share with you; a message for you; something that will guide or help you in your life.

For me---right now---it is birds. Robins,turkeys,my neighbors...the crows... and just today a happy bluebird and his mate, cavorting and flirting with each other despite a chilly,gusty wind and rolling overcast sky.

I have several books that will tell me their individual wisdoms: robin wisdom,turkey wisdom, etc. But for me...right now, in this moment in my life and art...I think it is the wisom of flying. Of leaving the safe nest and spreading wings and seeing where that gusty wind takes you. I think the birds are telling me not to be afraid... and I am listening with all my heart and soul.

I can also feel them speaking to my sketchbook and canvases.... I can see them. I need to draw and paint and do whatever I can to let them speak. I've been seeing nests made with string and sticks and paper and bits and eggs with speckled skins and these bird-girls and they are little and strong and delicate and they seem hopeful.
So I will be too. I'm going to go, right now, and make a cup of tea and sit down with my favourite graphite pencils and my journal and get these little girls onto paper.

I'm going to remember what my father taught me about 'truly seeing the beauty around you' and I'm going to listen to Nature's winged voice as she teaches me to fly all over again.