“Quite magical it shall remain. Interspersed are our lives, weaved through patterns of experiences.” ~ Natalie
Lighted shadows of grey between the day and night as in life and as in art. A brief view of the picture capturing her soul and anchored spirit on a special day, yet remaining free as she was meant to be. It seemed an appropriate title for the beginning of their life and when it should end. Listening to the orchestrated ocean’s waves and seagulls singing in the background.
“Oh, now I’ve lost you.” As she was trying to catch the image on the video camera of her precious son.
“Oh there you are.” she said, focusing on her son’s face and the dog in tow.
He said, “I’ve always thought of my mom coming from a time and place that doesn’t exist anymore. A vanished world, more like an emissary from a distant star that burned up long ago. That she is sort of stranded here and has had to figure out how to forge a life.”
Her son’s words taking the time to analyze his mother’s life and all that that encompasses.
I have yet to accomplish this with my son. But I know it’s coming and it did. The hope remained in my heart that he would come to understand me. The last beautiful thing he said to me, “I know you love me mom.” A powerful statement. Realizing that he does know just how much I love him.
Now in a new chapter of our lives I’m doing everything possible to make this dream come true for all of us. “I know you love me mom.” That helps each time I repeat those words in my mind forever. Believing, I never really fit into my own son’s impression of how a mother should act and be like. I don’t suffer anymore from the pain of not fitting into my son’s image of what a mother was supposed to be like, being a grandmother to Aubrey has changed both of us. I didn’t fit into my maternal mother’s large family. They would remain indifferent and I different in all aspects; especially in gumption. My audacious tenacity and drive would set me a part from everyone and The Secret. As if it was a sin to be this driven.
I packed the blocks, the soft green Christmas tree she loved playing and dancing to, her new cards, puzzles and her “Kitty Meow”. Later she said to me on the phone “Maxi broke Kitty Meow.” and “Not nice Maxi.” Her first sentences said to grandma. She’s only 2 years old. She would run from the living room into my bedroom to the curio cabinet filled with everything imaginable for my granddaughter. Not knowing I had saved everything for her. She loved the trolls, as I knew she would. She is after all my granddaughter.
It was exactly that. His words for his mother were my words describing the very beginning of my life. I was stranded from the very beginning. I had to fight like hell to forge a life and an identity of my own. In some respects, I suppose, I never imagined I would be doing the same thing now in the present, as I did when I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Math, providing me the freedom I had always dreamed of. Now I yearn for that kind of freedom once again. But I was always living two lives and for the longest time I thought that the life I had created to cover up the wounds of the past would be enough.
It’s ironic that her life, my life, and your life should meet with these words.
Her son asked her, “Why did you agree to do this?”
“Well, I guess cause I’m a ham.” she answered and giggled. For a brief moment, I saw the child in her. Something I constantly do when I meet someone new or they pass through my view on social media. I can always picture the child in them. The innocence before all the experiences that often change and affect us through faults, vices and immaturity of others. I can hear the words, “But they did the best they could.” Remembering my son, just recently as a grown man playing with the family dog outside. I could see him once again as an innocent child and I was happy and sad. Sad that I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate all his childhood. I left that to my mother and Nick. Yet so happy that I was witnessing my son like the little boy he was, playing with their family dog Maxi. Yes, Maxi chewed Kitty Meow.
She quoted William Faulkner, 1897-1962, Nobel Prize, 1949
“The past isn’t over, it’s not even past.” She said, “I absolutely think it’s true. I think it is in all of us, whether we know it or not. I replay things, scenes of my life, as if it’s happening and visually I picture it and it also influences my pain a great deal and I reorganize it so to speak.” she said to her son.
I suppose she and Faulkner are exactly right. When I decided to share my own personal story with my readers I had to relive it all again. Writing about my life until all the past came rushing forward.
Were The Flood Gates
In Her Mind
She Started To Remember
Smells, Tastes, Sounds
& Relived It All
Stand tall and
Write about what hurts
The survivable past…
That really doesn’t come easy for most of us. It forces you to recognize things, events, experiences in our lives and in doing so, you recall the experiences clearer; vividly. Some more hurtful than others. But most of all, the memory of the good times and that’s the safe haven to hold on to.
Describing his mother’s life he said, “She’s been in the public eye at this point pretty much longer than anyone else I can think of. I think the public perception of her is very limited.”
The idiom “Born with a silver spoon in their mouth” couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a misrepresentation that the public’s perception makes a definitive judgement that her life must have been easier than most, because she was born rich. But that isn’t true, remembering a close friend who was a writer and had a catered life with a nanny who was more involved in her personal life than her own parents were. She wrote a play about this; a cathartic experience. I played Mary Tyler Moore’s character in the play and we became friends. I miss her. It was a very small part but nonetheless I was happy to be on stage and mimic the show’s beginning scene. Reminding me before the cancer in 2009, if God were to appear in front of me, or if I could travel back in time, I would skip the experience of the cancer with the chemo. Because that changed me the most and took the most away from me, and away from my son. He wasn’t used to seeing his mother so weak, disheveled and full of fear. After all, I prided myself in keeping up with my health by exercising regularly and wearing an elegant outfit. I wanted to remain the beacon of hope to my family. But I was on my way to a head on collision with all the health challenges that kept surfacing.
His mother was a model, an actress, and a fabric designer. The flashes of all the segments of her in the public eye as an actress, a model, a designer, a painter, a mother. She’s amazing at 91. She continues to work and paint every day. Now that’s the secret, to find what you enjoy doing the most and continue with that till your last day; your last breath. She sketched, drew and painted her entire life.
She quoted a friend Carol Rose who suggested that her drawings were ‘Tales we tell ourselves’ for that particular period of time of what were feeling inside. She said “In a sense these are fantasy paintings. Their imaginary situations that not necessarily ever happened or existed, except in one’s imagination, in hope and dreams.”
I knew exactly what she was trying to explain. She couldn’t have described it more accurately. I had purchased a new home that had all this white wall space, from the floor to the 12 foot ceiling. I looked at it as a great big white canvas. Through my philosophy classes in college I had studied the different styles of painting for each particular time or period. I bought canvases and I initially started with my own abstracts, but I wasn’t satisfied and so I decided to paint landscapes and try to paint them as realistically as I could. Drawing and painting away from my initial abstracts.
It seemed people were more drawn to the abstracts. Before the cancer in 2009, I became fascinated with flowers in a vase, castles, fairies, and angels. I had decided to paint tiny angels in each painting. They were spread throughout the painting but not easily visible and I purposely painted the angels that way. Because in real life, I don’t think we always see who the angel is to come and watch over us; help us. So in this sense, it was an imaginary world and the angels were part of it. But our imaginations are very real, they exist.
The last painting I painted, I didn’t finish. It was a castle and I look at that castle everyday and I wonder when am I going to find the time to go back to this castle and finish it. It continues to call out to me, because of it’s potential. Our potential. Our creativity. Everyone is born with it. I had such high hopes and dreams of how I would finish it; I still do.
Angels are not always in view or readily seen. But I believe in them wholeheartedly. ~ Natalie
My castle that remains unfinished. It hangs there with the reflection on the moat, not yet painted. But I am going to finish it. A tremendous more of detail. The colors you see there are just a foundation, then mixed with the detail colors that creates a three dimensional object.
Writing has become my passion, above the painting, above playing the piano. So I really feel in a sense not fully accomplished. How should I put it? I never reached my potential with either the painting or playing the piano. Though I showed great potential in both in bits and pieces as my life evolved.
I cheated playing the piano. I skipped over my lessons and started to play Beethoven, Mozart and the rest by memorizing the keys. The melody and tempo I didn’t have to strain for to add to the memorization of the keys. I impressed anyone who would listen. I also created my own music. As I am always drawn to the minor keys. But it was a nasty habit I learned and I haven’t had the time to go back and correct it. Writing takes practice, a lot of practice, a lot of time. So as you now can read, I’m still writing and maybe practicing. But most importantly it’s evolving, learning and healing…
Examining and describing one of her drawings. She saids, “‘Hir e ath’ with a kind of lilt, it’s a Welsh word. “A home sickness for a home to which you cannot return. A home which maybe never was, the yearning, the grief, for the lost places of your past.” “It’s longing for something that never was. So it’s not your past if it never was. It’s longing for something that you never had and it’s really kind of the essence of all of these paintings. Everything I do, all my paintings is autobiographical.” she said.
He shared, “In regular life people don’t talk about death, loss, and grief. It makes people uncomfortable. That was a language that had been spoken in my house; always. I could always tell as a kid that there was this sadness to her, this loss that has permeated her life. As a young kid I didn’t really know the origins of that loss. She never talked about it. She is the most optimistic and youthful person I know. So the whole idea of survival became very interesting to me. Why some people survive and others don’t and how people survive. I started working in war zones when I was 22 or 23 and it sounds ridiculous to say, but it didn’t seem all out of the ordinary to me. I understood the language of loss. I do think there is something to bearing witness to it and asking people to bear witness to it as well. She’s the last person who knew me as a child. So I don’t want there to be anything left unsaid between us.”
While he holds his mother’s hand, they go to the large space holding all the things saved throughout their lives. A very personal part of their lives giving us a view of what it was like to rummage through all the stuff now part of their history. If only saved for the memories. That’s what we do as people. We do want to remember the good times. The pictures and little things that meant something.
Yesterday, I was looking for the softest face cloths that I keep in my bathroom vanity and I found one of Aubrey’s wash cloths, a baby wash cloth and it smelled exactly like her. Even after it was washed. This will go with the things that meant something very special to me.
The End of Part I.