Sunday, October 3, 2010

What I now know

I've just returned from a trip home to clean out our home.  Among the things I found there, I believe I may also have found part of the reason for Mummy's current psychological *drift*.

We were not wealthy, not even close, when I was a child.  Mummy frequently had to 'rob Peter to pay Paul', as we used to say then.  There were not a lot of extra pennies floating around anywhere.  My sister and I rarely had the latest and most fashionable garments.  In fact, I recall that when sailor collars were 'in', the only reason I owned one, was that one of my pairs of pajamas had such a collar!  

Still, I wouldn't complain about my life.  As I went through the house, throwing things away, I realized that my mother managed not only to have us in a very nice (and spacious) home, but also, she managed to surround herself with things of beauty.  Yesterday, as I was packing, I decided to try to bring back this picture of a pensive old woman, as it was one of Mummy's favorites.  Obviously, I succeeded in bringing the picture back without damage to frame or glass.  Yay me!

My point though is that in the years since we have been in this country, my mother has made no attempt, none whatsoever, to indulge her finer self.  It's as though she was waiting to return to that part of her life 'at some point'.  The problem was, she didn't know when that point came because she had no real plan in her head.  But that right there - the unwillingness or inability to plan - is a story for another day.

I worry about folks who put off life until tomorrow.  Surely they know that tomorrow never comes?  Surely they know that today is all that we have?  As I sought to rid the house of all our 40 years of this and that, it became clear to me that one of Mummy's challenges has got to be the loss of access to things of beauty.  This picture is one of four or five pictures that I would have liked to bring.  One of the others is an old, old picture of a pair of grandparents helping their grandchild with what might be her homework.  That's an image that would resonate deeply with my mother, a life long teacher and the daughter of teachers (who have helped her daughters with more than a little homework).  Then there are the two pictures, collages really, that were given to her by students of her school as she retired.  And there's the Gaugin painting "Ta Matete" that I've seen so many times around the house and yet never knew it to be Gaugin. Why would I? It was just this picture my mother had hanging on a wall: Paul Gauguin - Ta Matete.  Sure ours is only a print, but it meant something to her to own it and to have it in her space and yet, since 2001, nothing has replaced it in her universe. 

I understand much more now, about her, about the necessity to feed our spirits with food, drink, spiritual things and beauty.  What a terrible thing to so plan (or not) your life, that you make no room to do that which enriches your spirit! What a terrible thing to leave your home full of beautiful things and wondrous music (she had a significant collection of jazz records which seems to have *disappeared* - ie. been taken by the last tenant) in order to achieve some unspecified end!  The end is not all that there is to life.  For all her intelligence, she seems to have missed this particular life lesson entirely. 
So I've brought one picture, I've brought her favorite tablecloth (pictured) which we'll use at Thanksgiving or Christmas or both, and I've brought her the one remaining china egg cup. I will try to bring other things should I return home any time soon alternatively, I'll have someone send them to us.  I understand now, much better than I did just 3 weeks ago.  These things matter.  I hadn't realized just how much they mattered.  The things I've brought are only stuff, true, but they are the kind of stuff that add meaning, depth and richness to our lives. They are things of beauty, things that speak to who she is at her core.  Whatever we can do to continue to reach that spot in her and keep it alive, is the right thing to do I think.

Insight is such a blessing.

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