I was a small child then, but I heard the stories. When she was in her 40s, my aunt (now passed) drove a cab and smoked cigars. She was always one of my favorite people. “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.” – Macbeth
Get the nasty bits of life done, do them, get it over with; and then get on with living. She (my aunt) literally liked to roll back and forth with my children; across her living room carpet when we would visit. She was in her 70s at this juncture in her life and showed no signs of slowing. Like me, she had three children. Like me, they were two boys and a girl and also like me, her husband died young.
I don’t visit her headstone, which is a pink granite (or ‘Morning Rose’); the only pink one on that side of the cemetery. I don’t visit her at the stone because I prefer to talk to her in my head. I don’t believe she’s hanging around the cemetery. It’s too dead there for her. Her Morning Rose headstone (or is it Salisbury Pink??) stands out; one can pick it out easily from the road where I pass by it daily. It’s within walking distance from my house and for some reason (perhaps because the headstone was purchased years before her death) the date of her death is not inscribed. Her day of passing has been open ended for over ten years as if she is still living somewhere in a little red house or a white one with peeling paint; and ivy spread over the hilly areas of the yard so she doesn’t have to mow the steep parts.
I’m a transcendentalist I suppose (Immanuel Kant reasoned that in order to understand the nature of reality, one must first examine and analyze the reasoning process that governs the nature of experience).
I think a lot. “An unbeliever in everything beyond his own reason might exclaim that two distinct creators must’ve been at work,” said Darwin when he saw the unique flora and fauna of Australia for the first time. It’s like that with people too. The aunt I mentioned had verve. Spirit. Gusto. And yet so many people I knew were quite the opposite.
Sturt’s Desert Pea. Native to Australia. It has long tap roots that allow the plant to access water deep in the soil. This is because the plant is most commonly found in desserts and dry areas with little water. The seeds can survive for a long period of time, being able to grow after several years. This is because the seeds have a hard covering which protects it from the outside dry environment until the following rainfall. When they do bloom, the seeds that are produced are carried about by the wind, spreading them apart. This helps it continue to grow and survive.
I’m growing quite ordinary Sweet Peas in my garden not because I care about the harvest (although they are tasty) but rather because I love the flowers they produce.
Unlike flowers that adapt themselves to live in harsh climates, I never felt I had unique adaptational skills. Looking back I now KNOW I do. Give me a dying man and I’ll learn how to run beeping machines, prevent skin breakdown, and redesign my life to make his inevitable meeting with the Reaper a distant thought. You do what you do “because your back is to the wall and you damned well have to…” (-Donna Williams said about me)
I assign meaning to small things. It’s my adaptation I suppose. I paint. I have a collection of brushes for this.
Synthetic. Camel hair…
photo from http://www.art-is-fun.com/artist-paint-brushes/
Why not celebrate the tools of my craft with unique brush rests? Check these out:
From my hands came this:
From my daughter’s hands, this:
At the end of my aunt’s life I discovered she’d been living with dolls. Her kids had long since moved out (mine are all out of the house now too) and she was not alone. Strange I’d rarely been in her bedroom, if at all. I’d always visited her at the kitchen table where I was offered slices of meatloaf and cucumber slices or in the living room next to her Audobon bird book, Civil War Time Life book, and sway back donkey statue. So when I went into her bedroom to make up her bed for her, I saw them there; maybe fifty or more.
How did she sleep with so many eyes upon her? All the dolls faced the bed. Shiny black shoes, eyes stuck shut. One eye open, one closed. Cracked faces, fragile features. White gowns, bonnets, fancy dresses. Naked ones, large and small. Porcelain and plastic, sawdust filled and some missing arms. Beautiful flea market rescues apparently, and some that were just…creepy. Old and new.
She’s gone now but she’s not. I don’t know where the dolls ended up. But I have stories about her life. About her verve. As long as stories exist no one’s really gone.