Oil on Canvas, 9 x 12 inches, 2015.
This is a portrait of my mother. I remember one of the last visits we paid her not long before her passing away: we wheeled her out to the patio and I placed a flower in her hair, she was very peaceful and happy. As soon as i saw her in front of the yellow wall I knew I had to paint her.
Tribute to a Wonderful Life
What you did and how we felt
Well, in my mom’s case, it was both. First and foremost I felt loved and there was NEVER a time when I didn’t feel completely and eternally loved. Even when I yelled at you, snapped at you, demanded from you, or complained. Love was never away. I felt loved through it all.
Beauty You made such a beautiful home for us, the pride I felt when I brought my friends over I never shared with you. Not only that you enjoyed them with me, made amazing meals for them that they all remember to this day! Some of these things I had no idea or can’t remember but you made them feel special. And I know you hated cooking but you were always seeking recipes that you could try. I have piles and piles of them hand written in your beautiful penmanship. Through your cooking we felt your love, through the fried chicken, pot roast, Hungarian stuffed peppers, beef stew, stewed steak on egg noodles, Christmas cookies, thumbprints potato chip cookies striped Christmas candies placed in a special bowl --- sometimes you could care less too, pop tarts, pillsbury Danish with orange cream squirted on top, boxes of raisins, slice of bread, space food sticks, cereal, tang.
Everything was spotless...all the time. Now that I’m a mother I know just how hard it is to keep a clean home and though ive read many times to let a lot of that go and I do - I still remember my bedroom always in perfect order, The gleaming bathroom, a pretty living room, clear and clean kitchen table. I know there must have been times where it was a disaster but I remember order and pride in a beautiful home and I now know how hard it was to keep it that way and that you showed us you cared for us through that hard work.
Being a mom isn’t easy. We work with what we have withwhat we’ve been given with what we’ve become. We aren’t perfect we are all broken. Mom was in ways im sure we’ll never know but the heart is big and will be heard. In her case it was huge and screamed to be heard in so many ways. But giving physical affection was a challenge for her. I always wanted more, more hugs, more kisses, more words of encouragement, more guidance more time just me and her. So what I have from her are small fleeting but very special memories. 1 ) A hot summer night when I was sick and had a very bad earache…she took me by the arm and pulled me towards the green chair in the living room, I thought I’d done something wrong but followed we sat down together and you put me across your lap and were fully present with me and stroked my hair. I ate that up and felt so much comfort. To this day its one of my favorite memories. 2) My brothers were insufferable in their teasing and taunting and I was convinced they hated me, one day I found it to be just too much and went to her to ask if they loved me. Her response was to make each of you come to me and apologize and tell me you loved me. 3) When we were all kids and we were naughty We got the belt and I witnessed my brothers getting it many times. It was never too harsh and we never felt harmed by this but I knew when that happened it was serious….I was very bad one day and you were very upset with me. I was 5 or 6 and we made our way down the long dark hallway towards the closet where the belts hung on hooks. About halfway down you stopped and crouched down and gave me a hug and kiss instead. 4) You brought me to all my ballet classes though it meant a battle with your mother, you didn’t drive so she had to take us everywhere…I remember so many battles but you kept it together. 5) I remember My cleanly pressed catholic school uniform, and I remember so many kids with wrinkled and dirty clothes and It didn’t dawn on me then in any conscous direct way but I knew - something inside me told me I was really cared for - my mom cared about us and would never let us leave without clean bleached white shirts ironed fresh with the very smoothe cross tie all kept tidy in our closets and drawers meticulously folded. Shiny new shoes every school year. Tirelessly worked over for many unseen hours. 6) Fresh clean bed sheets and pajamas each night and a kiss on the forehead, a visit from mom and dad as I was about to dream always assured me I was loved and THEY loved eachother and all was well. So I can end with the message we heard every night before they would walk away I would always hear: “Good night sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
Into the West
Lay down Your sweet and weary head Night is falling You have come to journey's end Sleep now And dream of the ones who came before They are calling From across the distant shore Why do you weep? What are these tears upon your face? Soon you will see All of your fears will pass away Safe in my arms You're only sleeping What can you see On the horizon Why do the white gulls call Across the sea A pale moon rises The ships have come to carry you home And all will turn To silver glass A light on the water All souls pass Hope fades Into the world of night Through shadows falling Out of memory and time Don't say We have come now to the end White shores are calling You and I will meet again What can you see On the horizon Why do the white gulls call Across the sea A pale moon rises The ships have come to carry you home And all will turn To silver glass A light on the water All souls pass Hope fades Into the world of night Through shadows falling Out of memory and time Don't say We have come now to the end White shores are calling You and I will meet again And you'll be here in my arms Just sleeping What can you see On the horizon Why do the white gulls call Across the sea A pale moon rises The ships have come to carry you home And all will turn To silver glass A light on the water Grey ships pass Into the west — Annie Lennox