Teaching Art in the Rest Home
Your thin frame wanders the home among souls who sit slumped, waiting daily. They wait for freedom from their tangled brains and oxygen tanks. From their head-hanging doze, you wake into smiles the grandmas that no children visit. Your personal pain, so sharp on your face, softens to love for the lonely, fierce as a mother’s for her child. ”
“She was once a great artist, author, poet, ” you say of your crinkly students of art, heroically grasping the brush they once held in defiance. Instead of scouring the tub, they once painted still life and sunsets, in silence in the upper back room, holding their breath, fearing the slamming back door, the cookies and milk. The kindergarten art arriving from school.
Having sacrificed one love-of-her life for another, the grandma alerts to the violets and blues that pierce the gloom of her softening mind. As her brush touches paper, she goes to a time when she was most alive. The thrill of the filter of afternoon light through the spare bedroom curtain long ago, falling just so, oh, on the canvas, that it brightens her winter landscape and she sees, oh delight and revenge, exactly where to lay that last stroke of white.
She turns to you in gratitude, her eyes softly open and glistening.
Who better than you, having dared to chose the other great love, to arrive on the days when her handsome children don’t. What a surprise when you arrive with the forgotten child, that free-spirit love child, from her secret afternoons.
Thank you for all you do, my friend. Thank you for waking the souls asleep in those slumped-over bodies. Sadly, soon one of them will be my mom.