#17 summer series 2019

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I remember the last summer with my mother I felt the impact of memory loss. I used to love my walks with her in Maine. We would meet on a path and wander to the south Isle End and then down the east shore looking out to sea or wherever our conversations might carry us. I loved talking about family dynamics with her-- both about my siblings, but also about her own brothers and sister and her memories of her mother and father. Our rambling conversations gave me distance and empathy for her choices and losses. They enlightened my own struggles of identity with my brothers, husband, child and as an artist.

That last summer I had made a plan. I was going to be on the island for twenty-one days. So I thought I would write about the planned twenty-one conversations with my mother. However when I arrived it was apparent that her memory had vanished. Those family dynamics were a mystery; her love of politics was now history. She was forgetting and I was struggling with letting go. I wrote, but my pages held different insights than the ones I had imagined. We walked and talked and I found I had to be in the moment. I had to look where she looked, to talk about how close certain island houses are to each other or how two trees created an "X."  We laughed our way through the nights when she lost the salad she had made for dinner or the cookies she had hidden for dessert. When everything else was gone we were standing together looking in the same direction rich in the loss and prosperous in our connection of the moment.

17 summer 2019.jpg
"The art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss."

― Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

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This page contains a single entry by Catherine White published on June 17, 2019 8:59 PM.

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