Crime Scene: Everything I got from my mother, I had to steal

“Crime Scene: Everything I got from my mother, I had to steal” 24″ X 36″ mixed media on paper.

This is the photo I keep returning to when I think of my mother. So much going on here. Why is my mom wearing a skirt instead of slacks? My mom never wore skirts that I remember. The only dress I ever saw her wear was at my sister’s wedding. I’m too young in the photo to remember where or when this was taken. I’m comfortable enough sitting next to her. I’m leaning in, a little timid. Her left arm is around me but uninvolved, her fingers closed in a fist. Her pose seems relaxed, or defiant, I can’t decide which. The fingers of her right hand are loose and separated. Her legs are crossed away from me. But her face… The look on her face is a mystery. She looks right at the taker. She looks serious, sober, sad or mad.

This is the relationship I had with my mother.

Mom was always ridiculously happy, sad, or mad. Nothing was ever halfway. She died before I was old enough to really know her. I’ve been able to piece together a lot from photos and a few writings. My grandmother told me a little. My aunt gave me the crucial bit. It fits together… Why she was so angry at men. Her guilt. If only she had lived until I was old enough to hear her tell her story. I think it would have made me less fearful in life, less shy. I was a child and children are protected from the truth, aren’t they? But then they don’t know why mom runs hot and cold, lashes out, hugs so tightly yet so seldom.

Everything I now know about my mother I have cobbled together through years of analysis, comparing my moods to her behavior, guessing how she must have felt. I wish she could have told me.

My possibly ageist thoughts


Do I do more than just exist? I retired in 2005 and started my own business as a visual artist. I love the work but it has dwindled and I need a restart button.

How old do you have to be to be too old to do something you’ve always wanted to do? My first career in graphic design is over and I do not want to re-enter that field. I’d like to write. I’d like to have paid work again. I’m only 62 (63 in April). I want to get involved in work that carries me for decades, that keeps me alive and fresh. I could try to revitalize my current business, if I could muster the energy.

When I read about women who have studied and continue to study life and it’s meaning, I wish I had done it more formally. Yesterday I read a post by a woman who started her masters in social work at 59 and I was envious, yet I don’t live close enough to a university to do what I’d really want to do, immerse myself in something that matters.

I have some time now (limited by watching my 7 yr old granddaughter) but I’m afraid I may not have the concentration. I do read widely every day but feel unproductive. Why did I study all these years if I have nothing to offer society now?

Is it use it or lose it in life? Can you jump-start at my age with a moderately chronic illness (CFS/Fibromyalgia)?

Mirrored grief

I saw the two of them, brother and sister, older than I, leaving the store together, heads bowed, lost in talk, an intimacy I envied. There was a larger story there, but in my head.

It may have been my friend and his sister, or it may have been strangers that looked slightly like them, but in my head (in my head!) I knew that they had come to the store to buy Christmas decorations so that they could share the holiday together in spite of having lost their sister, a girl I went to school with.

A minute later I said to myself, well, there is a larger story there, isn’t there? I see two people who remind me of friends who lost their sister.

Who else lost their sister?

I think they are buying Christmas cheer to try and overcome their grief.

I just left the Christmas aisles myself.

And I envy that they can grieve this way, together. And I project all this on them, all of my sadness about my sister dying before the holidays last year and how they were dark and ruined.

So I made a mirror, but a mirror with a slightly different picture, of shared grief with a sibling, which I don’t have. The fact that it was a brother made it even better. I always wanted a brother, a protector. A sister is too much like me, too close. I guess it was easier to see my own grief reflected in these two people from the past, people I imagined had an easier time expressing, acknowledging, their loss. And for a minute, I could see mine.

Hello from the hinterland


Things i know now:
Aging is more tiring than I ever imagined.
I don’t like the term “old people.” Older than who?
I really hate the word elderly. It implies infirmity and worse.
There are pauses in life but no rewinds.
Dogs help.
“Some day” always turns out to be around ten years later, if at all.
The perfect haircut won’t last.
Neither will the roof.
Don’t put paint away until you are completely finished painting.
Since Oprah cancelled her “real” talk show, she is way less important.

Well, I have done it. I have neglected my blog until I had one lone reader this week. I have officially almost killed it. This is my attempt at getting back in the swing. But my computer software has reached its end of life by Apple and I don’t know how much longer I can post from here.

I am still stuck in suburbia. That’s me in my yard above (not, but might as well be), on my silent street, still wondering, will we ever get out of here? Is this the real thing, or is this just fantasy?

Is there anybody out there? If so, please write me a line and say hello.