Two weeks before my mother died, on a very lucid day, she asked me “what are you doing?” I love that phrase. What are you doing? It’s how my mom would start so many conversations through the years. No matter if I was in England, Arizona, Texas, 30 feet up a ladder painting, she would call and instead of hello, or anything else, it was always – “what are you doing?”
On this day my answer was – “running City Theatre”. Like many non-profits can do, that 60,70,80,90 hour a week kind of running. I had made a pledge to myself when things got crazy. I will put painting on hold and fully attend to the theatre with the hope that the universe would kindly return me to painting for my blood, sweat and tears commitment to keeping everything going during that wonderful time we call the “Great Recession” .
“Are you Painting? You should be painting, it’s what you do. “says Mom. Which was so lovely because at the beginning of my career as a painter my mother would ask when I was going to get a real job. Made only slightly better when I was a bit older and she declared at my first solo show opening which she and my Dad flew out for, that I must be good because several people had told her I was. Which I took as a bit of a left handed compliment. Later she would send unmarked letters to me with just pictures of things she liked which I would then paint and ship to her without letter or return address. I would find these paintings hung at her house and when I would say “nice painting” she would laugh and say, “well it just arrived in the mail so I put it up.” She had a great sense of humor.
“You should be painting it’s what you do. “ and then she was gone. But that 14 days in hospital, in hospice, without sleep, in a surreal world where the outside just ceased to exist. In a place between life and death, waking dreams, watching her talk to loved ones long dead, seeing her eat from empty trays and drink from a straw that only she saw.
I started thinking………. What ARE you doing?
By 2014 the universe did let me return to painting full time. When people look at my work from the 30 years prior to 2005 and then at what I am doing now they often ask how in the world did I go from that to this? I have lots of answers, but that time with her, that moment when I thought I want “Still More” for her. She was going where I was not and I found in that “The Still Point Silence”. And since 2012 it’s what I have been living, breathing and painting.
What am I doing?
I am painting, it’s what I do.
I hope everyone reading this is doing what you do.
Living it, breathing it and seeing it, really seeing it!