Many projects are on-going in our studio, both personal and professional, but none for me more important than to find a way to put together, finally, a book about my experience helping my Mom, Dorothy Mayse, through her end-of-life experience.
For seven weeks, in June and July of 1998, I was her primary caregiver. The experience left me with a desire to share that time with any willing audience. The sharing process has taken the form of both the visual and the story, linked together, in the form of a proposed book.
In about 1999 or 2000, I began creating 15 pieces at the request of my therapist wife, Shelley, and for my own well-being. These pieces took their cue from any number of what I call, “pivotal moments,” during that process. Times when things would take a turn, or become different – both good and bad (expected) – or when a revelation presented itself, an opening, an awareness or an understanding.
Below are 15 pieces that are presently being considered and put together as 15 spreads. These spreads contain the written story, one of these corresponding images (below) and other artifacts (objects, toys, things left behind) and photos that are collaged onto the substrate or surface of the single 2-page spread.
This will take some time (it has, indeed), but it is a labor of love and for me, a revisiting of those shared moments with Mom and as an artist, always a chance for continued visual exploration and self-discovery.
The book, after many other things getting in it’s way, is finally coming together.
"It was a chair"
early the next morning, the dining room chair seemed to offer the immediate answer for now, while waiting for Hospice to bring the much needed porta-potty that i had requested. we needed some other way for her to go to the bathroom, and it (now) needed to be by the bed, so that we could conserve her energy............she simply rolled her eyes (when i presented it to her).
"bell and ear"
Early on, we discussed alternative ways to communicate, deciding that she would ring the bell when she needed my assistance. It worked very well, especially, when her voice (to conserve energy) was compromised.
she always felt lifted by her friends, her community acquaintances and fellow church members. their help was crucial most helpful and certainly made her feel very special.
every morning that she could, she would sing to me like it was the very first time....with her arms folded and resting on the door trim, she would sing (to) me....."good morning."
after some days of semi-consciousness, Mom "awoke" in a rally of energy and awareness. she seemed at peace, sure of her intentions, was direct and wished to visit with family and friends. Hospice had informed me much earlier that often people near death will travel from here to there to test out the prospects of their (near) eventual journey. i felt that she was a tool for a connection between the two worlds.
after Mom's death, in late '99 during a visit to Australia as a visiting artist, i felt a presence that was represented as a gray shadow always just outside of my peripheral view. it seemed like someone else was always in the room.
"sugar jar scoop"
"it seems to (that) every time i go for the sugar, i think of Mom each time in a very different way. the scoop bring with it, a kind of remembrance similarly.......brought by other items left behind by her. these things (that are left behind) are reminders in a random way.
"the dnr form"
a rather dismal day of realization that makes it difficult to maintain much of a sense of denial. when the social worker, Mom and i got together to discuss the dnr form, (for Mom) it wasn't at all clear what we were talking about..............
the day we got her into a hospital bed (at her home), we had better control over our attempts to make her more comfortable. she loved my straightening of her covers those days.