To say my mother was my inspiration is an understatement. It wasn’t the big things she accomplished, but the small moments of time of her just being her. Looking back, those little moments were paramount for me to find my own passions and outlook. They also shaped me into the mother I am today.
I remember following her around through the college library she worked at during summer breaks as a child. Watching or rather “spying” between bookshelves as she toured half bored college students through the aisles of books. Expressing an excitement that not many people could share for the reference section and periodicals. She would take her time with each student that approached her desk — answering their questions with such a passion, as if they were on some great treasure hunt for knowledge, as welcome relief would hit their weary faces.
Her love of research reached home as well. She mistrusted modern medicine as a quick fix and would always bring out her books of natural remedies whenever I came home with an ailment. “Natural was best” were the words she lived by. If there was a degree in homeopathic remedies, I’m sure my mother would have passed it with flying colors.
Art history was another favorite topic of hers that we shared. Often our weekends together would find us exploring local museums and exhibits. Balboa Park in San Diego holds some of my fondest memories of us together. We would march all over the grounds on a search for knowledge. After our explorations, we often found ourselves by the Japanese tea garden for lunch. Just the two of us surrounded by the different worlds and times of art and science.
Her dabblings with oil paintings; however to me were still the most inspirational to me. Seeing the old barns and landscapes, she would paint and other still lifes she would sketch across the canvas were one of the reasons I picked up a brush myself.
I wanted to be like her.
When I needed advice, I knew hers would always be solid and motivational to push me through whatever challenge I was facing. Encouraging me in every interest, I would come across. Patiently listening, giving me unbiased advice. As fearful as my mom was in a lot of things, she would push through her fear for the people she loved. Finding answers to my toughest questions. She was my light through every dark passage.
As she lived her life I watched, behind a bookshelf, as she researched the next “home remedy,” as we went to a yoga class, or when her eyes lit up at a new exhibit in the park. I watched, and like a sponge taking it all in. Desperately hoping I could someday be like her and inspire my own children the way she inspired me.
January 2018, my mother Parkinson’s disease advanced to stage 5. After a fall, she slipped into PD psychosis. Where every fear she had ever experienced was on one constant loop as her body curled and failed her. Watching her go through this left me twisted in my own pain, wishing there was some way to make me take some of her fear away like she had done countless times for me.
Helpless, The sudden loss of her steady flame had left me in my own shadow. Making the things I once loved, things we both enjoyed, lose their luster. A half-finished painting gathered dust. Words failed me as I stared at my computer screen to write. Books were left unread.
The wish that I could just talk to her, have one more normal conversation plagued my mind in one constant loop.
One more conversation to hear her advice (even if I didn’t follow it). About life. Mom moments with the kiddos. About silly trivial things. About anything.
After a vacation with my father and sister to one of my mom’s favorite places in the world, Kauai, I came to a realization. Although my mother’s spirit had dimmed, the flame that she ignited within me still burns bright. Her love of the arts, her quest for healthy living and her motivation was something she passed on to me.
And on that Island, I realized that this flame must not go out.
On August 11th her flame flickered its final flicker. The loss of knowing that the voice I held so dear would only now be in my mind and in old family videos. A voice that resonates in my own. One that although may not be heard from her lips, but will never be silenced.
My littles (whom I fondly call my monkeys) are now doing the same thing I did so many years ago. Two sets of little eyes, watching me for guidance through this cycle called life. Young curious eyes looking for answers on who they are and what their passions and aspirations may be. Watching me and learning who I am through my own passions. Wanting to paint or write a story because its something mama does. Or try something new because they have seen through me that it is ok to try and keep learning.
Just like I did when I was a child.
With this realization, my perspective sharpened. I knew I wanted to help not only guide my children but help others as well. And the spark of ArtCycle kindled. To help motivate and inspire by a positive example. To ignite the fire within. To excite the soul- for both parent and child.