As 2019 ends…

The end of another year, and the end of a decade. This year I’ve worked hard, actively relaxed, spent quality time with Tony, contributed to the wider profession, had an art exhibition with Dimmie at Lysaght Watt, visited Penny and Alan on the West Coast a couple of times, been to Punakaiki to the pancake rocks, gained a nephew-in-law and a great-nephew, kept my weight steady-but-slightly-heavier-than-I-want and increased my daily steps to 6,000. Not a bad year’s work all up…

And the decade? Hmm. Stepped up to my current role, gained a great-nephew in Australia, sat with Mum as she passed, had weight loss surgery, renewed old friendships, had a car accident, enjoyed endless hours of art & craft, and celebrated our silver wedding anniversary.

Looking back at my blog from December 2009 the following stood out:

Having passed my chest infection on to my husband (remember marriage vows – for better or worse – this is worse) and my mother (blast! at 85, it’s not a good thing) – I’m feeling a bit better. Although the house still sounds a bit like a TB ward really. Now that I have my coughing under control, and a wee bit of energy back, I need to get creating. I’m still the same – creating is my relaxation and my saviour.

This year I have some personal goals, which I am not sharing, but am internally visualizing instead. My word this year is intended solely for my art, although as I live with and use the word I have no doubt I will start to find it fits with the whole of life. Why? Because my art and the whole of my life are inseparable. So, what is the word? MAP. It’s amazing to think I have been doing #OneLittleWord for over a decade now.

And Faith wrote: Grandma has a chest infection, but the staff kept asking about the big bruise on her arm – and Grandma couldn’t remember how it happened. When we got home Mum and Grandma were laughing, saying that at this rate the Police will be round any day to accuse Mum of beating up Grandma. I remember this so well – I was really concerned they were going to report me for abuse, and I still remember how she got the bruise.

As 2019 draws to a close, I am grateful for Tony, Faith & Goldie, family, friends, work and art. Here’s to a great 2020.

 

 

Lovely news, thanks Mum

I am delighted that my niece Rosie and her husband Jason are the very proud parents of Harry James, born early yesterday morning 21 December 2019 by emergency C; weight 5lb and totally perfect. Rosie is fine too; thank goodness for good medical care which, in this case, was literally life-saving. I’ve talked about it before so won’t go into it again – but if you would like to support them on their difficult journey, being walked in love, you can donate here.

I have done a page in my Dylusions journal about it because art helps me work through the feelings. Yesterday I cried. Tears of gratitude that Rosie survived a high-risk pregnancy. Tears of love for a baby who was at considerable risk. Tears of admiration for Jason, learning to be a Dad even as he learns to walk again following an accident that could have killed him. Tears of sadness for all the babies who couldn’t stay with me. Maybe even a few tears of jealousy at Rosie becoming a Mum when I never managed a live baby. (it’s ok Rosie – it’s me learning to feel, not eat as self-soothing)

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7 years: a second ago, & forever

It’s 7 years today since Mum died. She was very ready to die and we knew that. Ailsa and some of her family were here, by coincidence, and we spent the last 36 hours by her bedside at the home.

Released with love? Yes. Grateful she could finally let go? Yes. But…

Tony and I were Mum’s caregivers for 14 years, so Mum was a big part of my adult life. I miss her company. I miss telling her random stuff about my day. I miss reading to her from A A Milne, or new picture books that I think would make her laugh. She loved the ‘Walter the farting dog’ series.

We bought her a hospital bed and it had a wonderful memory foam mattress – I used to nap on it in the sun on a Sunday afternoon while she snoozed in her lazyboy chair. Mum sometimes said, as I held her hand to cross the road, that we’d swapped roles from when I was a toddler, and that was true. But as she watched over me while I napped, she was the caregiver again.

My brain is always restless for a couple of weeks prior to today’s anniversary. It’s not as awful as it was the first few years, when I had disturbing dreams. Once today is over, I come right.

Someone asked me, kindly, last night if there was some guilt I need to let go of? Maybe – Mum had wanted to die at home, but spent 6 months in the rest home (of her own choosing). Or perhaps it’s just that today marks a massive change in my life and the restlessness is my way of acknowledging that.

Either way, I miss you Mum. I’m pleased we had those 14 years together. It was hard work, but I got time with you most daughters don’t get, and that’s a privilege in today’s busy world. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

 

Mum’s birthday

Mum was born on 30 June 1924 at Bethany Home in Auckland, and stayed with her mother till she has a toddler. We don’t know why her mother, Angela, eventually had to give her up. I wish we had met her, she sounds such a character. We are fortunate to know Angela through her son John (Mum’s half-brother) and his family.

Mum would have been 94 today, not an age she had any great desire to get to. Mum didn’t romanticize old age; she talked about it being hard work and used to say that Dad, who died suddenly at 65 while out fishing, “got it exactly right, but a decade too soon”.  When Mum died in 2012 she was ready to leave this earth, and we let her go with love.

Mum shared her birth date with John’s ex-wife Liz – birthday twins, as I called them. So happy birthday Liz. I’m sure Mum is watching over us all.

Happy birthday Mum – you are loved and missed, but released with love too.

 

 

 

Art heals – thinking about Mum

Every year, as Mum’s birthday on June 30 approaches, I sleep badly and have vivid dreams. Mum died in 2012; we let her go with love in our hearts, knowing she was very ready to die. Yet my brain persists in this hyper-awareness every year. As in previous years, working in my art journal helps. Art really does have the power to heal people.

This photo was taken in 2011, her last Christmas, with her grandson Rowan. I have no idea now what they were talking about, but I can remember it being quite animated! I have put a heart over her face because sometimes I can’t bring her face to my mind, which is such a scary feeling. Mum may be gone, but love remains. The good memories are wrapped firmly round me heart.

mum journal page 2018-06-24

My angel babies and Mum

Many people know that in my 20s I lost a lot of babies to miscarriage. Because of the medical issues it’s hard to know exactly, but likely more than 12 angel babies came our way. A conversation with Sandra, my best friend of 45 or so years, last night reminded me of them. Not in a sad way, more a sense of heightened awareness.

When all that was happening I was living in Auckland and Wellington. I’d ring Mum often to tell her what was happening — Mum the nurse thinks I’m pregnant. Mum the baby has gone. Mum the pregnancy test was neutral, so they think I might be pregnant. Mum the baby is gone. Mum the Dr is suggesting we try this…

Mum listened patiently, without offering too much sympathy as she knew I had to hold myself together. She and Dad only had my sister Ailsa and I, and there’s more than a decade between us. I know she wanted more children but it never happened, and Dad loved all kids. I wonder how hard it was for them listening to me?

It always looked to me like Mum was a great Grandma to Ailsa’s children. They were lucky to have Mum in their lives and she loved them. There’s an ending to this that I am not going to write because it involves someone else’s child, and I have cried a little for my babies this morning but know, as always, that love remains.

angelbaby

Woke up feeling weepy, but art heals

I woke up feeling weepy and worried this morning, which is unusual for me. All I could tell Tony is when things are tough, and they are at the moment, I miss having Mum to chat to. In those last couple of years she may not have followed everything I said, and forgot most of it anyway, but it was a way for me to download. It’s just over a year since Mum died and most of the time it’s okay.

I think what has upset me is it turns out Tony has been a lot sicker than we realised. Long story, and involves a medical stuff-up re some blood tests, but it’s made me anxious about the upcoming surgery.

So, had a quick weep, scared the dog my grabbing a tissue so she thought I was going to wipe her eyes, and decided the day needed to be an art one because art heals.

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missimg mum

 

New Legato work finished

This commemorates my Mother’s birth father, Fred McKenna. Sadly, Mum never knew him, but in later life got to know her half-sisters. One of them, Margaret, provided some photos and information so I could make this piece of work, which is going to Italy later this year for the 2014 Legato exhibition in Cassino. Fred served in WWI and this year’s Legato is the ideal place to honour the grandfather I never knew.

I have been working on this piece for days; it’s 18×24″ on stretched canvas. I haven’t varnished it yet, just in case; there’s one small spot that might get adjusted yet. I have photographed the entire piece, and then there’s some close-up shots to show the details and layers. 

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Mum, rain, and nightmares

It’s a year next Sunday that Mum died and we’ll be putting her ashes in beside Dad at Patea cemetery. After Mum died I had bad dreams – okay, nightmares – for quite a while but gradually they eased. From time to time I still have bad dreams, but without the same intensity. In the worst dreams I drag Dad into it, and he’s been gone over 20 years.

But now the dreams are back, and getting worse. I have a real thing about bodies being in wet ground, which is why all our animals get cremated. I can tell you the logic; they’re dead, it doesn’t matter, it’s nature happening etc. My head knows that, but my heart panics about them being in wet ground. I get anxious and upset.

I totally get that Mum is dead, and her ashes are in a sealed and waterproof cremation box. The fact that the ground is wet for next Sunday’s interment doesn’t matter. Except that, for me, it does, it *really* does. I need it to stop raining. Please let it stop raining…

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Making those incredible links

In 2010 Tony and I took four works I’d created to the Legato exhibition in Cassino, Italy. They honoured four men who had swerved in WWII; my dad, my best friend’s dad and uncle, and the father of a woman who had worked for dad.

I am sending work next year, when the commemorations will be all the more special as the world marks 100 years since WWI. I’m already doing a large landscape based on my recollections of the walk to one of the memorial services we went to, but have been hankering to do something honouring a solider as well. But didn’t know who, or why. I should have known to listen and wait, because the answer always comes.

My good friend Joanne D had asked me a while back about doing a piece to honor her grandfather but we didn’t pursue it. She and I have been emailing and I’m going to do a piece that she can show her Granny then it can travel to Italy, then return to her family. Fantastic!

Before I knew that was happening, I decided to search the internet for local people who had served that could have relatives I could trace and talk to. My mother was adopted, and didn’t find out until she was in her 60s – but we were able to find out both her mother and father’s full names and are in contact with some family members. I was scrolling through names and there was someone I thought had to be her uncle. I range her half-sister and she confirmed this but went on to say that her father had served in WWI as well. Would I like her to send me some copies of war records etc so I could do a work about him.

I had to end the conversation and think about what I had just heard – that I was being given the opportunity to honour the grandfather I never knew by creating a work about him and sending it to Italy to be honoured by hundreds of people. I felt utterly overwhelmed. I wrote back today to say “yes, please do send me some copies” as I’d love to do this.

When we connect with people, and tell others what we need, it’s incredible what happens. Here’s a photo of Mum, and the piece I did of Dad – I knew they’d both be excited to hear this.

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bright spark