Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Painting Dance

Ninety three years old. Gladys speaks so softly that it's hard to make up her words. I sit by her side, and ask  if she would like to paint. She nods a timid yes. When presented with an assortment of colors, her sinewy hands go straight to the green and blue tubes. No hesitation there. Her daughter told me she used to paint a lot "before". 

Watching the artist come out of Gladys as she effortlessly pushes her fine brush on the white paper is quite a treat. Something important is taking place in her brain, that's giving her back the confidence that normally eludes her. After one long green stroke, she lifts her brush and hands it over to me.

Gladys's painting dance with me at Zen Hospice
I look at her with surprise. Me? Does she want me to join her? She nods. I pick up where she started and complete the green line, then give the brush back to her. Pretty soon, she and I enter into a trance, dancing together in silence on an 8 by 11 sheet of paper. Until the whole surface gets covered. "It's beautiful" says she.

Being present for each other. It was beautiful indeed . . . 


  1. This story speaks so much more than your words Marguerite. Thank you again for sharing.

  2. Yes, David I will remember these moments with Gladys (not her real name) for a long time to come. The gift of deep human connection . . .

  3. Nice story - nice to see that connection happen and the feelings that come with it when it does.
    Namasté Marguerite,

  4. Very nice story. It certainly serves as a reminder that we are all sustained by a network of interlocking relationships. One that brings a coherence to all we do.

  5. Yes, BD, and Bonsai Doug, our need to be interrelated never ceases. One of my social work professors said once, "We are related beings at the core." I have always remembered that, and certainly verified it in my own life.

    We also thrive in reciprocal relationships. This is why the term caregiver can be so harmful for the recipients as it deprives them from the possibility of giving back. And why care partners is a better word.

  6. Pooja, it is always nice to see you 'stop by'. I know you are practicing hard, always.

  7. Gladys just died a few days ago. Her death was very peaceful and beautiful, I am told.

    This comment is a tribute to her, and her beautiful spirit.