My mother was born January 7, 1931 and died May 5, 2013 at 82. She and Dad had been married since she was 18 and he 25. Her quality of life had been declining for seven or eight years due to a stubborn abdominal cancer and scoliosis complicated by, well, just getting older. Macular degeneration had left her blind, unable to read or recognize faces. At the end, her mind was as razor sharp as ever, but her body was a mess and she was mostly in her bed listening to audio books or the television, hording pain medication from her home hospice until she could accumulate enough to make sure she could end herself. Which, eventually, she accomplished with my father’s acquiescence. They’d talked about it off and on for years, it turned out.
2014, “Wow Mom” 33 x 21 inches, ink on paper
the text, “WOW MOM” is written repeatedly to create the image
She’d been an artist, a real estate broker, a debt collector, the director of development for our public television station, a gallery owner. She and Dad were early SCUBA divers. They built a home in Aspen, Colorado and moved there permanently in 1978. They preferred travel ‘off the beaten path.’ They trekked a month in Tibet at high altitude in extreme conditions. One of the party had broken a leg and they dragged him on a makeshift travois for two days before arriving at a passable road where they were able to flag down a truck to take him to the hospital. They’d trekked Ecuador and Peru, and dived with huge schools of hammerhead sharks in Galapagos. Ultimately, my mom sold her high-end Aspen galleries and joined the Forest Service as a Ranger. She started the Aspen Forest Conservancy. She hiked Aspen’s Maroon Lake trails in search of unleashed dogs and edible mushrooms (yum – she was an amazing chef = mushroom, not dog).
Mom attended Mills College for a year before marriage, and the Kansas City Art Institute for several years while I was in preschool and kindergarten. She was smart as hell and tough-minded. Most people, maybe because Mom felt a bit insecure about not having a college degree, found her intimidating and a little scary. She had a temper. In the end she just wanted out. She’d tried several times with Ambien overdoses, but survived. She wasn’t happy about waking up after those, but she was stoic. I, however, was beside myself. I did not want to lose my mommy!
Linda and I had driven out to Aspen to visit my parents. As we were saying goodbye, Mom told me it was the last time we’d be together. Dad phoned while we passed through Denver to let us know he was waiting for someone to pick up her body.
A couple of similar drawings from around the same time:
2014, “FOR SALE BY OWNER” 40 x 26 inches, ink on pigmented paper (portrait of Archie Scott Gober)
2014, “Addy and Arthur” 30 x 22.5 inches, ink on pigmented paper