Friday, April 11, 2008

Dance of the Four Mothers

There’s a collage hanging in The Mayor and The Rooster’s room that I made around the time I was getting a divorce from my first husband.

In it, there are five women standing on a plain white background.

The first four women have mermaid tails but the fifth woman is standing up on two legs with her mermaid tail thrown over her arm like a shawl.

Each figure in the collage represents one of the women in a family photo showing the five generations of women alive when I was born – from my Great, Great Grandmother right down the line to me.

My Great, Great Grandmother lived to be 100 years old.

In her lifetime, she saw transportation shift from a horse and buggy to a rocket to the moon.

In the collage, one of her hands holds a whole solar system and the other holds the ripples from a single drop of water in a still pond.

I used to sit by her bedside at the end of her life listening to her stories and trying to absorb the wisdom of her experience.

My Great Grandmother appears next in the collage.

Her picture is made from photos of farm land and her hands hold plant roots and Earth.

She was a dairy farmer’s wife and she was beyond kind.

Her legacy was one of hard work and love.

The next figure is my Granny.

Her hair is made of stones illustrating the stubbornness that I inherited from her.

Her hands hold framed photos – one of a pregnant woman and one of five women dancing together.

Granny was the one to ground me in my family, to help me understand that I am made of all those that came before me.

My mother is next, holding a clock and a fist.

She was the first woman in her family to earn a graduate degree and lead a successful career in the business world.

Finally, comes the figure that represents me, the one holding her mermaid tail.

I was twenty eight years old, childless and getting a divorce when I made this piece.

My foremothers all had children between the ages of seventeen and nineteen.

I understood that if I ever remarried and had a daughter, there wouldn’t be four generations of women alive to greet her.

My holding the mermaid tail was supposed to symbolize the divergent path my life was taking.

It turned out that when The Rooster was born, there were three generations there – my granny, my mother and me.

We recently lost my Granny so now it's just my mother and me.

Still...

Though I struggle with faith, I have always believed that my grandmothers watch over me.

They are my guardian angels and they are always with me.

The remind me of who I am and where I came from.

They help me find my center when I lose my balance.


When The Rooster woke up this morning she called to me and I sat on the edge of her bed.

I have never talked to her about the collage, but this morning she
pointed up at it and said,

“My angels!”

I beamed.

“That’s right, Roo. That’s exactly who they are.”


58 comments:

Lotta said...

What an artist you are in every way.

NotAMeanGirl said...

The Roo' is so lucky to have a mother that's so insightful and thoughtful. I love reading your posts girl. They make the day better.

ephelba said...

I've tried craning my neck every which way, but I just can't see your collage from here- a little help please?

Day Dreamer said...

Shoot, the end of that made me tear up. I had to go back and read the divorce post first, and by the end of this post I was teary.

Yes, I'm sure they are indeed her angels.

Amy said...

This is beyond sweet. I have to go cry now.

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

Oh that is so sweet!

I wrote a post yesterday about my Gramma and my son.

The grams must be pulling the puppet strings this week.

Very sweet.

yummysushipajamas said...

I love this post. It is so beautiful and AGAIN you made me cry at work! I'm requesting a picture of the collage. :)

Annie said...

So lovely.

Lori said...

So very sweet!

Omaha Mama said...

You are an artist.
Just beautiful.

jakelliesmom said...

Beautiful.

moosh in indy. said...

And a sweet piece of mermaid tail you are. I somewhat envy the close relationship with your grandmothers, I only remember mine as staunchy old women who smelled funny and yelled a lot.
Hopefully I will be the change in our geneology.

super des said...

Every bit of that was beautiful.

Ivy Brown said...

I think this is, hands down, one of the most beautiful things I've seen you write.

Stunning and well done and heartfelt.

We should all have such a collage.

Jen said...

Oh! I'm all weepy now. Dang it, you always do this to me! I would love to see a picture of this collage

Sugarplum's Mom said...

That is so precious. Had you told her they were her guardian angels or did she figure that out on her own? Kids can be so much smarter than so many adults sometimes.

qt said...

Oh Roo - grannies must be tugging at strings right around this time, I am having my own granny memories, too. Nice post, J.

mimikatemom said...

Nicely done, friend.

Carrie Sue said...

5 Generations, WOW. We've only made it to 4, but if my lovely grandma keeps on keepin' on (she's is in her 80's and her sisters were in their 90's when they passed, we just might make it.) I sure would love to see your artwork, it sounds amazing!

Kelly said...

I struggle with faith too, everyday, but I love to believe that our loved ones passed do watch over us, and help keep us safe, especially our children.

That picture sounds amazing, truly.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

Lovely!

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I could not agree more. Those important to use are watching.

Leeanthro said...

That was beautiful...made me cry!

I'm so glad I'm not still married to my ex. My life would be so different and I wouldn't have *these* two wonderful children.

Jennifer said...

Angels indeed.
Lovely. Just lovely.

flutter said...

you have some angels of your own

Little Monkies said...

I remember standing in your house staring at that picture with my mouth just agape. That was the first time I heard about your female lineage and the piece is such a breathtaking illustration of the strength of your women.

This gave me chills. You know, your art work is truly amazing. XOX

foop said...

Girl, you done made me cry.

Having been lucky enough to see said collage, I can say that it's one of my favorite pieces of art in the world. It knocks my socks of that I KNOW the person who made it.

Your little Roo has got some strong shoulders to stand on.

foop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeanie said...

What a beautiful picture! I truly believe that forebears do watch over us - both a scary and a comforting thought, eh?

My daughter was born on her mother's mother's mother's birthday, and her great-grandmother was around (physically, unfortunately not consciously mentally) for her first few years. They actually shared a very special bond and both derived great joy from one another.

Jo Beaufoix said...

I loved this so much. You made me cry but that's ok. I lost my wonderful Gran when I was 11. It was the hardest thing for me as I had some rough times as a kid and she was the one who I felt just loved me. Nothing else, she just loved me. When she died, I remember my primary head teacher telling me that now I had a saint to pray too. But she has always been my angel. As I've grown up I see her in me so much and it amazes me how this lady I knew for such a short time was and is one of the biggest and best influences in my life.

LadyBugCrossing said...

Your daughter is an old soul.
She probably sees her angels around her bed, too.
She is a very lucky girl.
xo
LBC

Shannon said...

She knows! How mystical.

Corgimom said...

Are you speaking to your Granny yet?
Lovely story.

Anonymous said...

Grandma Seattle is not quite an angel,(might never get there ;-) ) but she sure does love Miss Roo! And so did her Granny when they were last together on July 4th week.

Jennifer H said...

Very sweet. (sniff)

motherbumper said...

That's just beautiful and they are her angels.

Magpie said...

Oh, heaven. So lovely.

Kyla said...

Perfect and sweet.

Circus Kelli said...

Very very cool

Above Average Joe said...

Very nice

Cara said...

What a great post, those women truely are her guardian and will watch over her.

Cyndi said...

When I was born I had a total of 13grandparents alive, two of the stepgrandparents. When my daughter was born she had 7 with only 3 generations also. Grandparents are such a special thing. Do you think you will add Roo to the collage someday?

JCK said...

What a special piece to have for yourself to reflect back to when you were going through that divorce...and look at you now. A full life with 2 children in another marriage. How life leads u down varied roads...

I really believe there is something there with very young children connecting with the spirits of those gone before. Perhaps I sound looney, but it is something that I have felt too often to ignore. And it gives me comfort.

bew said...

This is beautiful. She visits with them. That's how she knew them.

lisawho? said...

Oh my gosh, you gave me chills. I dream about my grandparents. I often run into them at Crawford's (remember that dept. store?) and they are beaming and laughing and we hug and it feels so good. Sounds like you and I share similar faith.
I really want to see the collage!

carrie said...

Perfect.

While I too, struggle with faith - I do not struggle with the concept that my foremothers are also by side.

I'm lucky that there are 4 generations of women alive right now - but I'm so aware that we haven't that much time left and it breaks my heart.

Everyday.

urban-urchin said...

How blessed you are to have known so many generations of woman whose lives have shaped yours and who love you unquestionably.

Your legacy to Roo is a beautiful one to say the least.

Damselfly said...

I didn't know you are so artistic!

Damselfly said...

And that your art transcends age and reaches out to the Rooster.

nan said...

That is a very wonderful and personal story. I lost my Mom last year and that loss has caused me to look at alot of family memories. Family is very important either because you are trying to get away from them or trying to get close to them.
Thank you for sharing.
painternc
http://www.giftideasformothersday.blogspot.com

Jenifer said...

Yes, we should all remember our angels.

Deb said...

Just beautiful.

kelley said...

I can see that collage in my minds eye, and it is gorgeous. Will you ever let us see it?

Something that I am so happy for is my girls remember my Grandparents (only one left now). Especially seeing both of MPS's parents passed before they could remember.

Wish I had the artistic ability like you babe.

Jennifer said...

This is gorgeous. I have chills.

FishyGirl said...

Beautiful. They always know, don't they?

Deb said...

Oh, no... you made me cry AGAIN!

I want to see this beautiful collage!

Bon said...

i am late to this, Jess...but i love it, deeply and truly, and recognize it. i did not have five generations alive when i was born - that's amazing - but i felt them, nonetheless. always the foremothers, never the men. :)

do we get to see a picture of the collage?

Arwen said...

I am catching up on blogs so I am really late but this made me tear up it is so beautiful. My daughter has only me, and only had my mother for 3 years.