As I sit sifting through mom's things- box, after bag, after bin of all of her years of collecting- I'm struck by the raw talent she possessed and at some point stopped using.
Mom made the owl below in 1967, the same year I was born. I found a few more pieces with dates from the early 70's, and then no more ceramics were to be found. They're beautifully done and I've hung on to a few of them.
But then I found all of her beaded Christmas ornaments. The bells that took hours for her to string together. The candy canes, stars, snowmen, etc. All crafted together using beads and wires.
I found needlepoint. I found sets of dishcloths that she had embroidered. There were knitting needles, and sewing kits. I still remember the dress and cape she sewed for me for Easter Sunday one year. A cut out flower shape from the cape had landed on the navy blue dress, so she made it into a pocket- I still remember the church women exclaiming over it.
The most pervasive pieces of art, were her watercolor and acrylic paintings. Landscapes that were truly well done. Some more contemporary pieces that I know she enjoyed making, but weren't so much my favorites. But I do remember the paint classes she took and how encouraged and well-supported she was in her work.
And yet, at some point, when we as kids were still young, she stopped. All of it. I'll never know why, as she's never given the same answer twice.
Instead, what I began finding around her apartment, were my attempts to rekindle the spark. The scrapbook kits, supplies, templates, hundreds of grandchildren photos.
The paint brushes, the paints, the latest artist books with the techniques. The special paper. The charcoals. Oh goodness, she talked a good game. She had the best of intentions… she just didn't ever start.
I still wish I could help her find a hobby of some sort. She will admit to how long the days get, and yet, she no longer ventures out very far from her room.
Tucked into a box that held the contents of her "junk drawer," was our old family picture. I was maybe 3? And the photo was used for our church directory. The baby, is my brother, Lee.
Slowly I am making my way through "my childhood." With more questions than answers it seems. I often think this is the book I am meant to write- with a few chapters on breast cancer- and a whole pathway of events that brought me to that day.
"That day," the day of diagnosis. The day of the blindside. Three years ago, March 16th, 2011.
Or as some would call it- my Cancerversary.
Its a mixed bag. When I asked the boys if they'd like to go to dinner and "celebrate," with me. Colton very honestly and so sarcastically said "Celebrate that you got cancer? No, I don't think I want to do that at all."
My friends, Robin and Jenn, probably put it into the best words, "March 16 marks three years of choosing to embrace life's moments. We are crazy about you, and thankful for the day to celebrate life with you. Spring is coming!"
Those words, these beautiful springy flowers. Pure gift and grace.
Now I just need to find a card for Dr. Panwalkar. To thank him for his help in getting me to 3, and letting him know, I am now proving him wrong by stepping out into the "past 3" stage, and not looking back. I'm hungry for more. Greedy. Needy. I want 4, and more. I want decades, not just years. I think of my boys and I want girlfriends, graduations and grandchildren. I want weddings and wives. I want just two more weeks plus, 3 more years, plus forever with my Superman.
Day by day, with moments of small all added up, is all I can really count on- but a lifetime of day by day will more than suffice for a grace-filled life.