Yes, my blog has gone to shit, hasn’t it? What can I say? You want the truth? My personal life, which as everyone knows, dovetails into my artwork and has taken over in a heavy and unfortunate way these past many months. Working on my art has been tricky and intermittent, but I’ve managed to pull a few things off. After I buried my father in September, I wasn’t able to make much art at all. I considered him my muse. Slowly I was able to paint again and once again began to get some much needed inspiration. It was time that was the enemy, as I was also taking care of my mother who took a turn for the worst in January when she had a terrible fall outside of her house while walking her dog. After that, everything was different.
I had moved her up the street from my house and was able to check in on her several times a week. She was living independently for the first time in her life. Perhaps it was just too much for her. I didn’t notice the signs. She always suffered from a severe Bi-polar disorder and had bad feet, but was as functional and independent as she could be. In fact, she insistent upon it. I would not let her drive but to the corner grocery store, but she managed to sneak out further and get herself to department stores and spend, spend, spend on needless clothes, shoes, purses and jewelry. But often times she would call me confused about which knob was for the hot and cold water on her faucet, or where she put her bank statements when of course these things had never changed from where they always were.
The fall she took was extreme. She took a running fall, face first into some bricks. Her head was split open and she broke many bones and it required major reconstructive surgery to her orbital socket and cheek bone. She also broke her nose very badly and it was just a terrible, terrible accident to behold. After this happened, she would never be the same person again.
After a stay at the hospital, she was sent to a nursing home, and things just seemed to get worse. She hallucinated, forgot our names, became incontinent, got depressed and developed blood clots. Seemingly overnight, my mother went from her baseline “normal” to a senile, sick old woman. The nursing home was nothing short of a zoo for old people. My brother and I could not handle this just 4 months after our father died in front of us. And so we broke her out of the nursing home without consent and set her up in an extra room at my brother’s house. We decided to take care of her ourselves.
While that was a much much much better idea, it was really not easy. The burden fell mostly on me and my brother’s wife and she worked and has 2 little ones. We broke down and hired a part time caregiver, which then soon got a 40 hour week, and even then, picking up the slack was a full time job keeping track of the medications, taking her to the doctor, speaking to insurance, spending time with her, participating in physical therapy, feeding, weekends, evenings, financial affairs and bills, closing out her house, storing-selling-packing-donating her belongings, shopping, appointments, tests, etc, etc. There were still plenty of things to do. And she was disappearing faster than we could keep up.
It wasn’t until the end of April when she was finally diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a mixture between Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons. A Neurologist started her on one of the only medications for it and we waited to see results, but by this time, she had progressed so far along, she was no longer talking, eating on her own, walking, smiling, or even opening her eyes much . She was pretty checked out. She spoke few words and responded rarely “yes” or “no” but she was still aware of us and who was who. She just could not remember us by our names. She had initial recognition and was still affectionate. She was still able to say “I love you. I won’t forget.” Her face and hands were Parkinsonian: stiff, clenched and grimacing. Every visit left me weeping.
The last week of May I took a short break and didn’t see her for 6 days due to my own depression over it all, but May 31st I came out to my brother’s so he and I could go together up to my dad’s gravesite because it was his birthday, so we had a little picnic there. We set up lounge chairs on what be my mom’s future grave and we talked about what would be coming for her sometime in the next year – the last stage of dementia, which is no longer being able to eat. How would be able to cope watching that happen? What sort of funeral service will we plan for her? But as it stood then, her appetite was very good and she ate whatever we fed her.
When we got back to his house, I went into my mom’s room to get her pills prepared for the week and low and behold, as she sat in her rocking chair, her eyes were wide open and she was smiling at me as I walked into her room and she said “Hi Sweetheart!” I hadn’t heard her say that in over 2 months. I said hi and I went over to hug her and asked how she was. She said, “Good, how are you?” I couldn’t believe she was talking to me. I said, I’m good Mom, it’s so good to hear you talking with me. I’ve missed you!” and she said, “I know I’ve missed you too.” All the while she was smiling, almost giggling. We stayed there saying our ‘I love yous’ until she got sleepy and I was just blown away that she was so bright. Other people in the house that day said how well she had been doing that day and the days before. She was walking and communicating the day before and that Sunday. I thought that the medication was really turning her around. I went home and had such good news to report to my boyfriend for once.
The next morning on what would have been my parents’ 46th wedding anniversary, she died in her sleep around 8:30 AM. I rushed over as soon as I got the news and laid with her until Forest Lawn came and took her away. We buried her 3 days later and a week after that I got into a car accident and totaled my car. I was blessed to have been able to walk away from the accident with a few abrasions, burns and bruises and nothing major broken. Just sore and carless. I think I’ve been through too much, I think I think.
A nice, online memorial was put up by the Celebrant who did the eulogy at the funeral. I think she did a good job and it was a nice service. I had been working on a painting for months before about my mom and I happen to finish it the day after the funeral, which was weird and surreal, somewhat unfitting, inappropriate and odd.
I managed to complete a second piece that I had also started the week I was taking that break since she died, so it looks like I’ve been productive, but I really am just going through the motions on groundwork that was already laid.
I’m trying to get going on a project I wanted to start after my dad died that incorporates the notes in his bible and cartoons on Thomas Bros. map pages. I’ve done 2 of those so far, but I’m hoping to make at least 30. I’m referencing family pictures with areas we lived in Los Angeles while passing on my father’s notes and underlined passages in his Christian Application bible. It is not really a commentary on my personal belief or even religion in general. For me it is an ode to my father and a personal dedication. The viewer can perceive it as something sarcastic, or religious and comforting. It’s just a matter of perspective and context really.
In other news, I just rented a studio space in Highland Park. I am hoping that moving into it and setting up shop will get my mind off of all the recent darkness and help me to move on, heal and bring me back into a new place in my life where I can create a new beginning. I’m hopeful.