Greetings! I know I've been a little bit quiet still. But it's been on my mind to get back here. A few of you have asked about the design featured as the mainstay of this blog. There are a few of you who know me & the story behind it. It's not something I talk about much, but as I have shared before when speaking about heirloom work, sometimes powerful things, including design come from a deep emotional place for me.
Almost three years ago in March I received a phone call as I was driving over to Long Grove, to help my good friend Lynne at Olivia's Past by standing in for the day while she attended a style market. I will never forget it. I was running late... it was the first day of Spring Break for my children & I was racing to get there. I was calling Lynne to let her know I was behind & to ask if the neighboring store could post a note that I'd be there shortly... as fate would have it, she decided not to go to market & as I was on the phone with her, another call was coming in... a call that would have an unimaginable impact on me, and which still has a profound meaning that I never thought would happen and affect me or continue to be such a part of who I am today.
The other call was a caseworker who was very involved in my mother's life, calling to tell me that she was in the hospital in the end-stages of pancreatic cancer. I know... I know... shocking right? How can this be? What had led up to & transpired that you didn't know your own mother was dying? At least this is how I feel & think I would ask if I were the person on the other side of this.
There is alot of back story to my circumstances which I may or may not share here just because I don't know how well-received it might be. We all know that there are difficulties and circumstances involved in all of our relationships. I will just say at this point that my mother had been diagnosed later in life with some serious illnesses, to include some things surrounding her mental health. Those challenges created issues within my immediate family & deeply affected my children to the point where I had decided that some distance would benefit them. It was the single and most hardest decision of my life! To this day, I do still feel it was the right thing to do by my children - but it did and still does have everlasting effects on how I feel with regard to my relationship with my mother.
From the day I received that phone call, to the day she passed away was 2 1/2 weeks total. In my mind a lifetime of emotions & trials played out. After I received that call, I went directly to the hospital where she was staying. It had to be the most surreal moment of my life. I'll back up to only 2 months earlier when I had received a phone call from her & we had a subsequent visit together which went superbly well & she told me of her illness. At the time I remember feeling that I was capable... and willing to be there for her in her end time. That I possessed the ability & wanted to be there to support her. Ah...but you know as well as I, time can get away from you. I got busy with children and my business, and before I knew it, I was getting this phone call.
As I said, this was all so surreal. I couldn't believe this was really the end. I didn't understand the gravity of the situation. The hospital staff was looking for guidance from me...why me? I haven't been here, I feel I don't have the right to make decisions. Others in her life felt very strongly that I had no right either. There were so many good people in my life that told me to do what I felt was right for the both of us - right then, period. And after the difficult decision of putting her in hospice, I decided to spend every opportunity I could with her until the end. It is a choice now that I made that I am so truly grateful for. Despite all the hardships & challenges through our life... no matter what had transpired in the recent years, she left this earth knowing that I loved her and I felt her love in return.
This was such a crazy time...my children were on Spring Break, there was an upcoming family wedding, my husband who still after almost 14 years was travelling out of town full-time for work. The people during this time who surrounded me were my rock. They know who they are... I expressed what I felt in my heart at the time to each one individually & they know that I feel much love and gratitude. On mom's last day here, something kept pulling me to stay all day into the night...I cannot tell you what it was that kept me there...it was just a sense, a feeling to stay. The woman in the bed next to her would see me break down as my mother could no longer communicate and she told me to be strong... my mom was scared too, but I needed to be strong for her. Her last loving act was to take my face in her hands and give me a look that was so full of love...her last lucid moment. This is how I knew it was right - for the both of us for me to be there. I left that night and 3 hours later I received the call that she had passed.
So, we had this family wedding that weekend. There was no way that I wanted to change that circumstance... there should be joy & celebration and I just didn't want that to alter. So I postponed memorial services to the following weekend. In the meantime I had chosen some pink, frilly and feminine outfit to wear to this event which would have totally shocked my family - but that is who I am - unpredictable. Of course I no longer felt like wearing it and my teenage daughter was thrilled that I had decided that it was hers for the event. I didn't even care to go at this point, my heart wasn't in it. But something drew me down to my studio...
I designed what I considered to be the most formidable & bold piece of my career at the time. And that is the necklace you see pictured as the mainstay of this blog. Bold...embracing...powerful - and even a little forboding... I put every emotion I had into creating that design. The crowning glory centerpoint is a 1930's czech shoe buckle embedded with black czech faceted glass & rhinestones. The necklace is comprised of hundreds of czech 1940's faceted glass beads & a bevy of 1950's silver polished swarovski. I dressed demurely for that wedding in black denim wide-legged trousers & a 1940's style black satin wide collared jacket with peplum... and made that statement... I'm here... I am happy to celebrate the wedding, but the glorious focal at my neckline is where I am, anything I had left to give that week was in that design. Oddly enough, at least to me, everyone realized it. People gasped when they saw me...pale & forcing a smile...knowing I was in pain but there in support of my family and that design was approached by many that night, and those who know me well understood the meaning & the power behind it.
It was the only thing I would design for about three months. It was all I had to give of myself to my art at the time. It will always remain with me and become an heirloom in my family. While black is the color of mourning... I feel that this represented the boldness of the last couple weeks I spent with my mother. That no matter what had transpired... we dared to make amends. And I dared to be bold in celebrating her in that design....unconventional, non-traditional. That was who we were together - no matter what.
I truly hope that I have not offended by sharing this story. I somehow felt as the 3rd anniversary of my mom's passing is coming upon me that this was the time to share...