Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Power of Art

My mother is in her late 80's. She has always enjoyed the art pieces that she that used to decorate her home and now adorn the walls at her small assisted living apartment. The white walls are covered with art collected from her early days of marriage to more recent pieces, but mostly it's art my brother, Brian Thayne has painted as he is a professional artist. 

Just like many in their declining years, she is very forgetful. As she often says from the forehead down she is doing very well. She can seldom tell you what she did the day before and often the hour before. She remains though the lovely person she has always been, content, cheerful, intelligent, and grateful. 

A few months ago, my brother was a part of a large art show at Zion's Bank in Provo. This is a huge affair with 4 floors of art and lots of amazing food that servers offer to you every few minutes. I Well at the art show, she fell in love with a painting that was next to my brother's work. This is it. It's by Jeremy Winborg from Cache Valley. 
My mother honestly couldn't stop staring at the painting. We walked slowly from floor to floor. Mom talked to many of the artists and told them what she liked about their work. She has a great eye for composition and knows what she likes. But when she made it back to where this painting was hanging she told me she wanted to talk to the artist. He was usually talking to someone, but when he was free, I told him how much my mother loved his work and especially this painting and that she wanted to talk to him. He said she'd already told him. See she'd forgotten that she'd already talked to him, but he was gracious and told her he'd love to sell it to her, but that it was already sold. Besides it was large, an original and very expensive. So I talked to Jeremy and he gave me his card and said that he can do a print of any of his work. These days artists don't have to do a huge run of say 500 prints like they used to have to do. They can do one at a time. I contacted Jeremy and had him do a small print for Mom. When I went to pick it up from Jeremy's studio, he said, "I hope your mother enjoys it." I told him, that I was sure my mother would not remember the painting, but that she would fall in love with it all over again. I knew that if she loved it once, she'd love it the second time she saw it. 

But boy was I wrong. The print of the painting was given to my mom at our family reunion as a gift from me and my brothers. When she opened it, she immediately got tears in her eyes. She could hardly talk at first until she recovered, but then she said something like, "I saw this at the Zion's Art Show, but didn't know that I could have a print of it. The reason I love this so much is her eyes. She's looking forward at the future. It doesn't matter what your background is," at this she pointed at the background. "It doesn't matter what your past is, but it's where you're looking. It's about the future. I don't know what the name of the painting is, but I'll call it ''future." 

Somehow this beautiful painting reached through the cloudiness of mom's mind and embedded itself there. And a month later, she remembered every bit of the painting. She remembered the "native flower girl's" eyes. She remembered how the painting made her feel. She remembered where she'd seen it and hadn't forgotten it. Not a bit. That is the power of art. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

It's Been One Year Since You Left Us

Dear Judi, 
It's been one year since you left us. I'm sad today. It was a hot day like this one that I got word of your passing. I was in Brooklyn, NY as you slipped away, back in Cache Valley, Utah.  Nearly everyone who was most important to you had been to the hospital to bid you farewell, except for me. I'm hoping as you were in and out of consciousness, you heard my farewell as told to your son on the phone, of my love and all my best as you passed on. But I wasn't there with you and that still breaks my heart. So today, I once again reflect on you and the friendship you so generously shared with me. 

In my lifetime, I've lost some really important people to me: my dad, both sets of grandparents, my husband's parents, uncles, aunts, neighbors, and some friends. But I've never lost a friend like you. I've never mourned a loss quite like this one. You knew my heart. That we shared our discouragements and joys with each other is something I will always treasure. 

I imagine if you had been here this last year, here are some of the things we would have discussed. We would have been shocked and dismayed at the president who was elected for the US. We could have spent hours wondering what would become of our country. We would have talked about our health issues. I loved how you understood that being well and feeling good is all relative when you have chronic pain. Though my suffering was and is a drop in the bucket in comparison to yours, you still got me. We would have talked about our grandchildren and children and swapped stories. We would have discussed how the LDS church still has a long way to go when it comes to treating our LGBTQ friends, sisters, and brothers the way we believed they deserve and should be treated. This Spring we would have watched the new colts out your window. We would have discussed the box elder bugs and how they aren't quite as bad this year as they were last--at least not yet. You would have loved to hear about our trip to Italy, as I would have condensed it down to the highlights. I'm sure you would have thought of some new quilt designs and made a few more. And I would have loved seeing them. I would have continued to water your plants each Sunday. 

One of Judi's plants I watered each week. I put it on my table today in her honor 

But the best part, the thing that you would have loved the very most. The thing that would have brought you so much joy was to see your son get married to the love of his life. You so worried about leaving your oldest, your single son. You so wanted for him all the joys that come from finding that person to share life's journey. Your youngest son had that. You would have loved seeing how he and his family supported in every way possible, as your oldest started his new life. I hope you were there. I don't know what is beyond this life, not for sure. But now you do. And this is something I know about you. You would have been there if there is any way. And knowing you, you'd find a way. So you could see your granddaughters and grandsons dressed in their best, matching attire.To see friends and family come together to support your son and marriage in true equality. To meet your son-in-law and welcome him to the family. 
Me with Judi's son on his wedding day

You would do anything to listen to vows exchanged with the sound of the Logan River and birdsong in the background, to see the Swallowtail butterfly dance in the sun highlighting the love in the faces of your son and his partner as the Buddhist Bhikkhu joined them in marriage. You'd love the beautiful cake with a silhouette scene of Rio and Salt Lack City in honor of each and seeing them cut the cake, sharing in the happiness. For your son it was a dream come true, but it also was for you. It was just what you wanted for your family--united in ways that wouldn't have been possible not too long ago. This is a year that some wonderful things happened for your family. Maybe you had something to do with that. 

So today, I remember you Judi. I miss you. I will always miss you. You made a safe place for me to talk and share and no one listened quite the way you did. God speed dear friend. 

Love, Carole