I have made two pieces of deep, dark work this spring, that are reflective of my caregiving journey. I finally got downstairs yesterday to photograph them. It was so helpful that my daughter was here to help me figure out the new tripod with all its fancy bells and whistles.
While I have been making primarily narrative work for several years now, one day it hit me that I should be making work about how difficult this winter and spring were for me, as primary caregiver for my husband with stage 4 Parkinson’s. For months I manifested grief in my right knee, rendering me crippled, and isolated, unable to drive, unable to take my much treasured walks, unable to do much of anything except lay around in agony. For 12 weeks my knee flared, weekly. By week’s end it would start to feel somewhat normal again, and bam, pain and swelling resurfaced again. I felt trapped by my body and by the circumstances. What finally stopped the pain and debilitation was several things…figuring out it was grief manifesting in my knee and knowing I could change it by allowing the sorrow to escape my body; working with a homeopath to deal with the physical manifestation in a holistic way; going back to therapy to talk it out, and changing what I had control over with the current situation. I made this work as a depiction of what I felt at that moment.
For Mindscapes: Trapped, I painted over an early surface design yardage piece, with Pro-Chem’s Spruce, a moody blue-green. The quote came from my robust file of random wisdom. It reads, “I would rather be locked out than locked in. For to be locked out I would seek shelter in my heart but to be locked in would rain sorrow on my soul.”
As I now have regained my strength and am again getting back to my walking habit, I realize especially with Trapped, how deep a hole I was in, emotionally. Not all art is pretty. And yet even in its deep, darkness, to me there is some light, in the lettering; some hope to be found in the darkness.
Mindscapes: Descent 2 was an early traditionally pieced quilt that I upcycled. I painted on top of the now faded, once glorious batiks to create the perfect mood for this piece. The inspiration was my husband’s quote, when he often said he was just circling the drain. The words beneath spell out the loss of function he was experiencing.
Ironically throughout the caregiving journey people have said, don’t forget to take care of yourself; practice self-care, etc. I really thought I was. I was getting regular massages, I was walking, I was eating healthy, and yet I still got slammed and big time. I have been blessed most of my life with awareness. Some call it stubbornness; but I refused to accept debilitation and acute pain as a way of life. I knew there was an emotional component to it. And with a bit of hard work I was able to unravel it.
Walking out of the darkness…