It’s Mother’s Day in some parts of the world, including Germany. More than a decade-and-a-half since my mother’s death I am still working on our relationship. All I can say with any certainty, is that I am beginning to understand her. Perhaps understanding will eventually become acceptance and forgiveness for both of us.
My post today is not about me; it is about an artist friend living in Valley’s End, Russell G. Morris, who lost his mother after a long illness. This is what he says:
“During the four years that my mother was hospitalised I kept a visual diary, making one or two drawings per visit. This became a way for me to remain engaged and attentive once my own conversation was exhausted. Mum had ceased to speak long before she was admitted to hospital and communication was only made possible by her tapping on my free hand whilst I watched, waited or drew.
Each day I simply made a record of the time spent between us - and whether a drawing was good or bad seemed irrelevant, because they were done just for us. Mum was happy to be the object of my attention, although there were obviously times when enough was enough, and then silent regard remained between us.”
Although the drawings were “done just for us “, Russell was persuaded to exhibit them. I took photographs of several in the series, and have chosen to publish four of them here, starting with the earliest one and progressing to the last one of Russell’s mum's final day.
These are three poems he wrote after his mother’s death.
For a time of lasts
Your last breath
your unexpected tear
the making of my last drawing
and then with your eyes closed and arms folded
I leave a few coins tucked inside your evening bag
for the crossing over
before the last kiss
of a particular coldness
At least for tea,
would you come?
I’d meant to ask sooner
before you left.
I have your good china
the best set washed
and the silver pot for Sundays.
I’ve kept all of that
in case you might find a way
to set endlessness aside for a moment.
Lifeline : A Drawing
It’s the way you were left,
with one hand clenched
in a fierce and pitiful claw,
and hooked fast between a dead sea of pins.
Whilst the other turns to tapping morse against my palm
a code I’ve come to understand and translate line to line.
For each visit a fresh page
where my first few lines float upon the surface,
until you appear
to be mostly watching me
struggle to watch
as you endure
a few more hours of my desperation.
1st April 2013