Ars Longa 005

Ars Longa 005

Title: A Tree Grows in Chinatown 001; Size: 6×8; Media: Paper, ink, acetate

I had an epiphany a week or so ago, that my mother had a baby (me – I’m an only child) to make a friend for herself. She once told me that she hadn’t had many friends as a kid; she’d hung out with her two younger brothers and their friends. She also once told me that her mother didn’t like her. What an emotional desert she grew up in, and continues to exist in; not knowing how to maintain relationships, she still doesn’t have any friends.

I am the only one who remains, all the others have died on her (husband, father, mother), or have been driven away by her two states of being, smothering or indifferent. She has a few people who are fond of her, but never see her, as cousin, that cousin’s children, but not many. I move back and forth between two states of emotion about her, from smothering to indifferent. This fruit did not fall far from the tree.

My mother was born on Vancouver Island in 1933, the middle child of five. When she was three years old her family moved to Vancouver’s Chinatown, where the children attended school at Strathcona elementary. Back then Strathcona was mostly Chinese people.

My mother is naturally left handed and was forced to use her right hand. She has told me of her struggles trying to read and remember her lessons. Now she would be allowed to use her left hand, back then she was beaten and teased. Then she was seen as being “stupid” with what was an undiagnosed learning disability, now she might have turned out brilliant like so many of the left handed people I know.

My mother got married young (20 ish), and chose to have a baby young (22 ish). “I wanted you and Dad didn’t”, she used to tell me when I was a child. She chose to bring a baby here, and after that it was her duty to care for it. She didn’t do a great job – even though I now know she did her best, back then what I understood was that my mother was either clinging to me or pushing me away, mostly the latter. Now I know she probably had depression, but it wasn’t easy for me having to live with her mental health problems. I was given no real choice in any of this; when my father died in 1979 he said to me, “Take care of mommy,” and I have spent years resenting her for having had one child, hating her for what that means to me. Regardless how I feel about it, it is my duty to care for her as she ages – I have to do this thing. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I hope, now that my mother is not well, getting less well and needs more of my time, that my future self shall be able to look back on it and see that I performed my duty well.

The last month or so I’ve been thinking about giving up my wax working studio; I pay for it, but rarely go there. Mostly I work at home on paper and canvas and fabric (none of which combine well with melted wax). My mother has given me permission to move my wax working studio to her basement, and she wouldn’t charge me rent. This might work, after all, if I were working there regularly it might be easier for me to deal with things as they happen rather than if/when she tells me about them.

This morning I dreamed that I was at her house, working, and there was a broken water main, the water so deep that it reached the line where the basement meets the main floor. We stood on the back porch and watched as the water rushed past, dirty and full of foam and flotsam.

cherries-P1020137I looked at some of the wood beams of the house, and saw some rot, and then I looked up into the branches of the cherry tree and saw blossoms, so early in the year, and then cherries, cherries, cherries galore, dark and shiny and plump, cherries dripping off the branches; we were surrounded by cherries. “What the fuck?” I muttered, “There haven’t been cherries for ages.” And the birds, the glorious birds, flying and swooping amongst the cherry laden branches. Eating some, but leaving more.

My read? Only the obvious, that this change will be overwhelming at first, maybe threatening to sweep me away, but I will remain curious and attentive and above the danger, and it will turn out to be a fruitful experience for everyone.

~ by thiscassandra on Thursday 30 January 2014.

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