Monday, March 30, 2009

giving away memories and wisdom

Wow. I just listened to the radiocast on http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org on Alzheimer's Memory and Being, sent to me by my sensitive friend, Susan. It is something for us all to hear, as after all, whether we are well or not, losing neurons or not.....it is good to be aware of our own thinking beings....as we take so much for granted.

They spoke of an Alzheimer's writing group, writing what they could about anything they could remember and handing in the paper at the end of class and "giving memories away". And they spoke of something wonderful I have seen these past weeks in my own mother: a kind of wisdom, a novel and delightful new way of saying something profound and an ability to go straight to the truth of something even if she is not quite aware of doing so.

My mother wasn't sure about the word "daughter" today. She said she would say it and see how it felt in her mouth. And the mother who used to be so frustrated about her attempts at art, today painted ants and wonderful weird flowers and took a complete delight in the effort.

All it takes is love.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

wearing pearls

I sit here. With my mother's pearls around my neck wiping tears on my collar. I have always wiped my tears on my collar that is not new. But I don't wear pearls. The pearls are making me feel closer to my mother. She is a lady of very large and creative brain....but some of it is not working anymore.

She is now living in a lovely place but not her place. She says things that are still profound, wise and clever. She still makes people laugh and delight in her. But I can't really connect anymore. So, like many in my shoes, my generation, my time of life....I am saying good bye to my mother while she is still here.

The world goes round, time spins by..............it is a wisp and a dream.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

adrift in the dementia sea.....

My mother is adrift in a sea of imagination, hyper reality, and super espionage. Wow. She comes up for air on occasion and tells me she loves me...what could be better. As a painter of interior mindscapes, my imagination has always been brimming with ideas, visions and scenes both absurd and profound. But my mother, who once asked me to teach her to draw and became frustrated and deflated over the effort, now has the brain scope to rival any Hollywood script writer.

There is just the little problem of which way to hold the phone and how to punch the numbers in. Dementia is no fun......the early getting to grip with it is devastating to all. But, we've been stepping forward, learning what to do and starting to laugh. Life is a trip a journey and stopping and starting....and I feel better today than in weeks.....I've got a ticket to ride and I'm going to enjoy every day I have....and so will mom ...but she will be warning everyone of the wires in the wall and that damned religious cult that may be out to get her.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

a pumpkin sprout in spring

I never got around to taking the pumpkin off my porch. So, over time since October, it has slumped and grown big black patches all over it. Disgusting to visitors, but I still never moved it to the trash.

Today we noticed a green sprout about two inches high with two green leaves coming right out of the middle of it next to the fallen pumpkin stem. What better token of spring could there possibly be? So, carefully, carefully with a shovel, I slid it into a big wooden bowl.....disturbing a colony of earwigs who scattered this way and that. And finding a sunny spot in the garden, planted the whole pumpkin with the sprout sticking up. Sigh. Life does indeed go on.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

brain chemistry

It is finally happening. My mother, bless her, is losing her marbles. She is in marvelous health for 90, but our conversations in our every day phone visits now center around the "little people" who crowd her house. There are some ten of them now, including the little skinny girl of about three years old. My mother says they arrange themselves in the strangest positions around the room, getting in the way. She tells them to leave and sometimes six or so will evaporate to come back later. My father is there sometimes now as well.

It is all so matter of fact that it sounds completely logical. Maybe it is. It certainly makes one question one's own sanity. I mean, who knows which reality is "real". I do remember the questions in philosophy class as to whether or not "that red chair" is really there. In whose reality is it really there?

As one comes to the end of a long life, and brain chemistry plays tricks or dissolves neurons, perhaps this is the last and best Broadway show. At least it is marvelously entertaining.

swamp, 55" x 29"

in progress

flying fish, 55" x 29"

eye with a view

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I am living and painting in the little town of Houston. A far way from my San Francisco beginnings. I paint what I see of the human condition, be it human, animal or object. The glimmer of humor, pathos, and spirit in so much of what I see is the basis of what I paint.

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