Two years ago today my mother faded from this world, entering a new phase of eternity. Sometimes it still doesn’t seem real. For my mom and I, our relationship as we knew it died in a big way years ago. Neither of us wanted it, but we were faced with hard choices and we each made them like choosing different forks in the road, and our paths didn’t cross very often. That day, two years ago, we didn’t know was going to be her last day living here on earth, but we knew it was going to be “any day now.” I remember it distinctly:
Keith and I were working on the screen mural in our back yard. He was building the structure while I was painting the finishing touches on the panels to be hung on it. He had a pile of scraps and for some reason I began to arrange them like a puzzle. He cut a few I had marked and then I painted them all black, using the same exterior paint as on the base of the screen When the pieces were dry, I took them into the studio and painted them without any premeditation whatsoever, with the paints I had used to paint the panels. Then I dug through the trash bag and peeled the paint off the plastic lids I used as palettes for the painted panels, and glued them onto a couple of the black pieces. I kept painting until it felt like it was done. Keith went and bought hardware to put the pieces together and we assembled them into what you see in the image above. Then I got the call that my mother had passed. In my heart I knew before the call came…. I hung up the phone and visually took in the scraps of wood before me. To me they look like pieces assembled into an abstract expression of brokenness and darkness redeemed with light, color and shape. Somehow this art forged out of grief and grace brings me comfort, reminding me of God’s loving-kindness and ability to put our lives back together. He not only sees the big picture of our lives, but He walks on our journey with us.
A few weeks before my mother’s death, we went to visit her in the hospital. God had prepared the way for the time we had together. Forgiveness and love were wholeheartedly exchanged between us. And as a bonus we were given hope for the future and peace with each other, the kind only God can give, without lingering regret. So today I raise my glass, toast, and say, “I miss you Mom, and the good times, and the creative adventures we shared together. I love you!”
And I continue on this adventure of Life. Yesterday I got home from four days spent with our youngest daughter and son-in-law. They just moved about a four-hour drive away. It was so wonderful to be with them: Oh the joy, laughter, inspiring talks, good food, and profound peace. It’s the kind of deep peace I remember having when I was at my grandparents. Now I see my daughter in her kitchen, baking like my grandmother, my mother and like me. We talk and laugh, and remember good things of home and family. I hum a tune from when I was a Girl Scout Brownie adapting it to the moment: “Make good memories, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.”