Art in Her Honour

On Friday, I had to say good bye to a very special lady.  She was a private PSW client whom I had cared for for years.  I hadn’t seen her in two years.  In the 6 weeks before her passing, she and her husband were on my mind a lot.  I was actually planning on contacting her daughter to set up a visit as soon as my schedule settled down.

Then one night the week before, I had a dream about her.  I was driving her to a funeral, in a snow storm.  There was almost no visibility, accidents littering the road, and two foot high snow drifts on Richmond street.  We were running late, and neither of us had dressed or put make up on.  She needed me to get her to a funeral on time.  We got there just in time, frantically dressed, and I was quickly trying on her clothes to try to find something that fit.  I walked her towards the casket, noticing that we had forgot her walker, and she thanked me, became light, and disappeared into the casket.

The next morning, I saw her obituary in the paper.  I knew that she was having trouble navigating herself to the next world, and came to me to take her there.  Even in my dream state, I took her home.

She was a kind, creative woman.  She was quick witted, and never complained.  When I first met her, a copy of my favourite book, the Celestine Prophecy, was on her book shelf.  The book is all about synchronicity, fortunate interlocking events.  And I knew that we were supposed to be in each others lives.  I regretted quitting.  At the time, I was burnt out, and felt that she and her husband needed more care than I was able to provide.  But they were often on my mind.

It was my honour to attend her funeral.  I had bought some jujubes to put in her casket.  She was diabetic, and she loved her sweets.  I was always giving her heck about her sugar levels.  I was a bit surprised to see an urn instead of a casket, so I was unable to sneak her the little gift.  But I’m sure she appreciated the sentiment.

The service was beautiful.  Her family and friends were able to laugh and share memories through their tears.  I know it sounds strange, but my favourite thing to hear at a funeral is laughter.  I can only hope that I am remembered as fondly as she was when I pass.  Her daughter had put together photo collages that were displayed around the visitation room.  They each represented a different era in her life, from early years, meeting her husband at a resort carribean resort, to life with her young family, and then life after her car accident where her grandchildren became her greatest pride.  She spoke often of her grandchildren.

In one of the collages was her high school diploma.  She had graduated from BealArt, the same art school that I went to, and the school that my daughter currently attends.  I had wished that some of her art would have been displayed as well.  She had suffered a horrific car accident in mid life, one that had damaged her brain and taken most of her vision.  She and her husband once had a business making and designing t-shirts.  She was the main designer.  Her husband boasted about how she taught herself “half tones” and could do them perfectly.  All of the things that she loved to do before the accident- read, knit, draw, paint- all were taken from her.  I would have loved to have known her when she was whole.

I suffer from something I call “Schrodinger’s Art”.  When I was growing up, drawing became something shameful.  My father emphasized that cleaning should come first.  I had to hide when I was doing something creative.  As mentioned, I went to art school.  My daughter was conceived shortly after (like within three weeks) of graduating.  I stopped making art.  Because the house was never clean enough.  Because there were always more chores.  Somehow, TV was an acceptable thing to do, so I could knit and watch TV.  I knit every day, and I sometimes forget that knitting is art too.  Just because it’s “woman’s handicrafts”, does not mean that it’s not legitimate art.  But I don’t draw.  At all.  It’s that thing about practice.  the more you do something, the better you get, right?  And if you don’t use it, you lose it.  I’m afraid that, if I tried, I’d discover that I’d lost it.  So it’s Schrodinger’s Art.  If it exists only as a potential, then it simultaneously sucks and is magnificent at the same time.  I’ve been stuck with Schrodinger’s Art for almost 20 years.

I thought about my client.  How she so badly wished that she could draw and paint again, but no longer had vision.  And here I am, fairly good vision, working hands, and I’m afraid of what, making bad art?  She would have been grateful to make any art.  And she’d probably be pissed at me for squandering my gift.  I mean, if I lost my gift, and I worked at it, I could theoretically get it back.  I mean, if my house was clean enough, and every single email was returned and every single i was dotted and t was crossed, right?  No.  I need to just make art.  I need to set aside an hour in my schedule, set a timer, sit down, and draw.  She may not be able to make art, so I need to make it for her.

Safe Journey

S.M.S. 1950-2018

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