Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Memorable Momorial

See this group of smiling people? Smiling at a memorial? That's right! We celebrated my Mom's life, who she was, what she stood for, and all she taught us about life by living hers with high quality, integrity and humility.
I knew if my Mom's family and friends were all together we would form a wonderful team and everyone present proved it! Despite the fact that not all attendees were used to drawing.... everyone was supportive enough to try the group project drawing exercise... (Found on page 99 of an inspiring book I've mentioned before in this blog, "Art Before Breakfast")....

Each participant was given a blank post-it, a marker, and a 4x4 inch section of the portrait to draw. Nobody got to see the full portrait they were drawing. They didn't get to see more than the 4x4 segment of ambiguous shapes they had to draw. When each participant drew their post-it shape, they handed it in and all post-its were put up to create the final drawing. This final drawing was the result of a team whether it was a stock broker, accountant, health practitioner, musician, weaver, spiritual lifestyle enthusiast, knitter, hot wheels seller....everyone could draw...proving Danny Gregory's exercise in his book to work beautifully!

There couldn't have been a better art exercise to share what it felt like to have a Mom who taught us the love of creating art together and that the best way to learn to draw is to just draw!

I have to thank the portrait artist, Gracie Oury, who turned a photo of my Mom in the 1940s into a line drawing that made this project She was a pleasure to work with!

It's been a slow process dealing with the sudden loss of my Mom. I doubt this process will end. But it is forever shifting and never stops teaching...which is exactly who my Mom was.
 Last year, as I went through her things... photos, artwork, artifacts and letters would show up....many that I'd never seen before.... and they were speaking to me, begging to tell her story.
Any person who creates projects will admit that there are times when your materials speak to you and tell you how they wish to be created into a project. So you have to take dictation and do what the materials tell you. This was the case with the Momorial. Each day for a year, photos, drawings and other artifacts would show up that brought the stories Mom shared with me to life! They slowly formed into a slide show that told her story in a very strong timeline...and there were enough story-revealing photos to also include a farewell slideshow to a soundtrack of songs that expressed how much she is missed and loved.

I have to admit I lost sleep over the slide shows, wondering if it's TMI to reveal some of Mom's stories...but too many people upon entering the event told me they knew very little of my Mom's story because when she was with them she'd keep the conversation focused on them. That was exactly what I needed to hear! All those sleepless nights when I should've trusted that the materials guided me to a project that let people know the woman who came from challenge, sketched her dreams, and made them into reality!

The Momorial was held at one of my Mom's most favorite restaurants, Frank and Betsie's. Betsie, is an expert at having your back at every aspect of the event. Everyone else who was working on her staff treated us like gold as well! At one point, Michael, a wait staff member, stopped to tell his memory of my Mom and it was so unexpected, thoughtful and touching!

I can't leave out my lovely daughter and son-in-law who flew in from NYC to help with so many challenging beyond-my-realm-of-knowledge feats from detailed artwork tweaks to techno-help and so much help in between! And a very special thank you to my brother who flew in from CA and his best friend from grade school who flew in from AZ with his lovely wife!

Everyone (family and friends alike) who shared memories and stories did a beautiful and touching did Antonio who played a lovely violin piece dedicated to my Mom.  I can't thank enough the participants who so generously donated to the Botanic Garden bench that will be dedicated to my Mom because that was her favorite place to be and thing to do...visit the beautiful garden, walk, converse, and sketch or knit, while enjoying nature and good company.

Because dedicated benches are pricey I will be posting items to sell online to continue raising funds until this bench meets the price requirement. More on that later.

I have to admit after the Momorial was done, something was eating at me and it took a while to figure it out. Because of working on the Momorial every day for a kept Mom alive to me. Now the Momorial is complete and it's time to face reality and let go. They sure don't teach you about this part of life in school.

I am very grateful to everyone involved in the Momorial from helpers, staff, family and friends. Thank you for being there. That is the definition of love....being there.