In the midst of reorganizing my home office, I found, forgotten in one of the cabinets, the sewing machine my mother had bought for me during her before-last visit to the States. That was seven years ago, exactly, and the time when I started noticing that not all was well with her mental state. The mind, my mind instantly went to a place of sorrow. And I got to watch the way grief creates itself.
From seeing sewing machine, to remembrance of mother buying the desired object as her going away present, to a feeling of great love. Then a flood of associated memories related to her visit, the last one in our old house. The good times spent with her and my daughters. Her attempts to cook dinners for us still, and the realization that she needed help. Her sitting at the edge of my bed one evening and sharing her ruminative thoughts about her daughter-in-law. How she nearly got lost one evening during her usual walk with Amy, our dog. My despair as I realized what lied ahead. The image of her patiently sitting at the kitchen table, as she let me make a mold of her hands. My frantic efforts at giving meaning to what was happening. The solo show I put together to honor her life.
|'In My Mother's House' (detail)|
(cast bronze & embroidered cloth)
It all came back and I watched my heart go into a funk. A sewing machine, that's all it had taken to switch from a perfectly happy state to a tearful one.
Grief can take one down. It can also heighten one's awareness of the inner workings of the deluded, desiring, aversive mind. Deluded about the truth of life and its impermanent, unsatisfactory, uncontrollable nature. Desiring what could not be had, the mother I used to know. Desperate in rejecting the reality of her deteriorating condition. Grief is like that. It can be a great teacher.