Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Find a Creative Outlet

Throughout her adult life, my mother dabbled in a variety of art forms—drawing, painting, sketching, jewelry-making. As a young child, I remember her trying her hand at oils. She proudly framed her picture of Marcel Marceau, the famous French mime. It still hangs on her living room wall.

She began her silver jewelry-making phase when I left for college. She had always designed her jewelry—bringing her sketches to Tudor Jewelers on Linden Boulevard in Elmont. There are countless Garie originals, from necklaces and earrings, to pins and rings. On one of my trips to Israel, I asked what she would like from the Promised Land. “Eilat stones,” was her reply. I made my way to a souk and they found their way into pins and bracelets.

She continued her art at Hofstra University, where she audited oil and acrylic classes for many years enjoying the “senior” rate. She proudly brought home her work, eagerly showing them to us, much as a young child asking for our praise. Instead of hanging the latest on the refrigerator with a magnet, she would notice the ones we particularly liked and during the next visit, it was presented to us framed…with a flourish. I have several of her pieces on my kitchen and living room walls. When Russell favored animals, a framed pastel of a penguin appeared. When she and Perri entered their orange gift exchange, Perri became the proud owner of …what else? A still life of oranges. It sits in our entryway. For Doug, it was a bird, framed and now hanging over the piano in the living room. And me…what was I thinking when I said I liked her attempts to imitate Georgia O’Keefe. Her gifted picture hangs outside the bathroom, though perhaps it should be inside. Well, take a look for yourself. It’s supposed to be a close-up of a flower and its petals. But every time I look at it, I see…a vulva. Oy, Mom!

Really, what do you see? An eagle? or a Flower?

When she and my dad became snowbirds, travelling to Florida every winter for 30+ years, she insisted he needed to get out of the apartment and find an outlet. You guessed it. Pottery classes. The entire family has been the recipient of free-form plates, bowls, pencil holders and even toilet scrub brush holders, as well as molded and poured lidded birds, soap dishes, and pitchers—blues and reds for Bruce and Lorrie; purples, pinks, and greens for Doug and me. We even have a painted rabbi (thanks, Dad), which we bring out on selected Jewish holidays. Where I once thought of these attempts at “art” as an amusement, I now view all these creative gifts as acts of love. They both wanted to share their expressive selves with only those who were nearest and dearest to them.

Over the years, I, too, have had that need to express myself creatively and have also dabbled—pottery, stamping, beading, crocheting, photography, collages, and my latest—art journaling. It allows me to combine it all with my love of writing. I’m embarrassed to admit I have a closet full of paper, paints, stamps, torn sheets of magazines and newspaper, ribbons and beads, broken jewelry, glue, watercolors, and colored pencils, not to mention boxes of broken knickknacks. On vacations, I have been known to travel with one small black rolling suitcase filled with such stuff. You never know when that creative urge will strike!

And like my parents, I have bestowed my creative gifts on the ones I love. I hope that those recipients also will be wowed by my immense talent (not!) and view them as expressions of love that I want to share, and not as “Oh, oh. Mom’s at it again!”

As recently as two years after her surgery, Mom was still trying her hand at sketching. Pictures of her aides, self-portraits, and her grandchildren are in a pad I found in her kitchen. Her desire to express still there. Now, bedbound and barely able to speak or move, I’m sure she’d love to be able to have one last chance to let us know what she's thinking and feeling.

So, note to my older self: Don’t stop expressing yourself. Whether that creative outlet is through art or dance or music or even a beautifully set table, let your voice be heard…because you never know when you will lose it.

1 comment:

  1. I love hearing about your amazing mom (dad, too!), written so beautifully and with such pride, humor and love!