If you’ve been hanging around for a while, or know practically anybody in my family, you’ve probably realized that I didn’t get the Hallmark genes in the crowd. (Though I have been better at cards since I started making my own!)
I’ve been pondering that this weekend. Between the 9/11 anniversary on Friday and Grandparents’ Day, today, it’s felt really hard to find words that will fit on a card. Which might explain all the tears. Tears for big, complex feelings that don’t always have words.
There are times when I envy Phoebe, who has taken to muttering in her sleep, leaving the interpretation to the two footed folks nearby.
And then one of my paintings started asking for things. She’s been sitting on an easel since May or June, dropping hints and waiting for me to catch on.
I think our communication challenge started from the very beginning. Officially, her name in the land of Intentional Creativity® is Hydra’s Flare.
Astrology and Greek Mythology. Not my areas of expertise! Yes, I looked it up when we began but there were lots of other things going on about then and it somehow just didn’t stick for me. Especially the part about cutting off her heads and more growing back.
I painted the constellation. A great excuse for prayer dots. Dots for peace and for learning.
Then, a book I was reading, starting leaving little hints around about symbolism and names.
Then I got engaged in a major genealogy expedition.
Oh, and a friend looked at an online photo of my Work-in-Progress and asked who that was beside her.
You know how, once you see something, it’s really hard to un-see it? Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling about the presence beside the “main” figure in my painting. Once I saw her, I couldn’t un-see her. And I still didn’t know who or what she was.
A week or so ago, I realized that the mystery figure represented the ancestors. My ancestors. Specifically, my grandmothers.
Yesterday, I figured out how to pull it off!
So, digging through the family tree stuff, I began writing names. In longhand. Lots and lots of names. Then I printed them on recycled paper and began to tear the pages into pieces.
Tearing is important, at least for me. It leaves softer edges for collaging than cut edges.
I wondered a bit, as I tore up the names of the grandmothers, about this rather non-typical way of honoring them for Grandparents’ Day.
As I wondered some more, the tears began to fall again. You see, I know enough of the stories of these particular women to realize that many of them lived through days which must have felt a lot like these days feel to me.
Immigrants on well known boats. Wives of Revolutionary War soldiers. Mothers who knew what it was to wake up in the morning and wonder who was going to be in charge. And where the food was going to come from.
They don’t seem to have many answers, these scraps of paper with names of those who came before me. And yet, as they start to come together, I find comfort in giving form to their courage.
And in hoping it lives inside me, still.
I see it even now in my girls. Wise women already, I’m grateful for their inspiration in learning new things. I just wish they were old enough to vote!
For today, blessings. And hugs for some dear friends in Tennessee who have newborn twin grandsons! I’ll report back when my art adventure is closer to satisfied with me.