Home > Stories For The Fireside > Portrait of a Parrot…a Dedication to My Mother

Portrait of a Parrot…a Dedication to My Mother

I don’t even know where to start with this one. This is a personal post based on my relationship with my mother with an emphasis on my passion and her acknowledging that passion without ever saying a word.

My mom fell pretty ill a few years ago. She became pretty fragile under a period that was very stressful in her life. I’m bringing this up again now because another very stressful event is inevitable in her future and she’s falling ill again and hopefully on her way to recovery. The event in her life causing stress now is bringing two families together that haven’t been together in over twenty years so you can imagine all the different components being involved. One life has both family’s attention right now and that is my mother’s husband. Another life is now walking a tight rope and is once again my mother’s.

Three years ago when mom was ill, I wrote about an experience I had with her and it has come into memory so many times within the past few weeks. Three weeks ago when we were all in the hospital late one night my mom and I walked down the hall together on our way to the restroom. I sat outside the door waiting on my mother. I found a strange and out-of-place cubby hole in the hallway and took the opportunity to hide in it and wait for mom to open the door. She opened it and started walking out and I jumped out trying to scare her. It was an opportunity to take the edge off of a very trying day for two families. Mom stopped in the hall way and looked at me as if I thought she was just born yesterday. She said “You are such a dork and I had a feeling you would be hiding there when I got out.” We both laughed so hard and I hugged her and told her how much I loved her, how much I admire her, and what a great friend I find in her. Things got serious again as she stood and looked at me and said “Lara, I pray that God gives me strength to make it through this.”  I gave her a kiss and we continued on our journey back down the hallway arm and arm.

I sat on the couch last night thinking of something I wrote a few years ago as mom was recovering from a pretty stressful time in her life. I went and found what I wrote and have posted it below. I’ve edited it slightly so it is understandable without all of the background previous to three years ago.

Portrait of a Parrot

Rocky, moluccan cockatoo, that has his own story of how precious a life can be.

I went to see my mom today. She is doing very well and I really look forward to our time together. We call each other at least 2 times a day, even if we just saw each other.

It’s been tough for mom. She’s been taken away from everything she knows. We weren’t sure we were ever going to be able to see her in the condition she is in today. At one point, we weren’t sure she would be with us for the holidays.

Regardless, now she’s in assisted living for rehabilitation. Does she like it? No, but we are working on reaching her goals and I’m helping in every way possible for her to obtain them. My little sister and I had to have the unfortunate conversation with her last weekend informing her, we don’t know quite sure where home is for her right now, but to sit back and relax where she is. It tore her up. I tore us up to have to tell her.

I’ve been trying to make every visit with her functional to her advantage. Whether it’s taking her out for socialization, focusing on details, daily tasks, future thought process, etc. One thing I did do was take her my easel. She has mentioned possibly wanting to draw or watercolor. I took up watercolor painting a couple of years ago and that lasted a whole five months. I packed up all of my stuff, including my books on drawing and all of my sketch books.

Each day I call or visit she tells me of how much she doesn’t like the place and how the activities are so boring and how she doesn’t want to participate. I usually say “Well, have you started drawing or painting yet?”. She replies with a “No, I can’t figure out how to put up the easel.” or “I didn’t have time.” or just a negative “No.”. We’ve gone through this over and over the past couple of weeks. I’m trying not to go in everyday and have her rely on me for all of her entertainment or whatever.

We just had the conversation the other day again when I knew I wasn’t going to be going in. “There’s nothing to do here” she complained to me. Of course there is, but I understand her being angry for not being able to go home. I would be also. “Mom, did you look through your drawing books yet?”. She replied with “No, I can’t figure how to put up my easel.” “You don’t need your easel to draw mom. Draw it first then we can work on painting it.” I said. “There’s no place for me to draw here.” she told me. I smiled because I can see where she’s trying to get this conversation to go and I’m not going there. “Mom, you can take your sketch pad and take it to the screened in porch and draw. I love that screened in porch. I love hanging out with you on the screened in porch.” “Yea, I suppose I could, couldn’t I” she replied. 

This morning I got up, got the birds fed called my mother and said “How bout I grab some Starbucks and come over and set up that easel?”. She was in a fantastic mood and said, “Well, yea! Why don’t you get off your duff and do that.” We laughed and I grabbed my keys and headed out the door.

I sat with her on the back porch and we drank our Starbucks and enjoyed the morning breeze. Her husband stopped in to see her and I told her I was going to head up to her room and work on putting that easel together for her.

Up the stairs I headed and I worked on that damn thing for probably about a half an hour trying to figure out how to put it up. It’s the kind that fold up with a leather handle so you can take it wherever you want. I had dreams of painting in someone’s green pastures. I don’t even know anyone that has green pastures and the damn thing never made it out of my dinning room!

I finally got it all put together. She even came up and checked on me half way through and asked “Well, what the hell is taking you so long?”. I told her to get back down to the porch and complain to her husband since she does that so well. We laughed and she headed back downstairs.

I looked for the perfect spot in her room for her to paint and get good light. I sat it up and it looked so pretty. I looked through her books I gave her on “How to Draw I & II” and “How to paint I & II.” I picked the “How to Draw part I” and was going to set it up on her easel for her to see when she walked in the room. When I picked it up I felt something thick in the pages. I knew I shouldn’t be nosey, but hey it’s my book right and I wanted to see what particular drawing was attracting her interest. I flipped open the page that had something thick in it. It was about 3/4 of the way through the book. It was a small sketch pad. It was opened. It was opened to where she was practicing her sketching. My heart stopped and I smiled as I thought “She IS practicing! Well that little turd!” My smile was so huge. I looked at her sketch and thought “Now what exactly is that?” so I pulled the sketch pad away from the book so I could look at what sketch she was drawing from the book. I looked at the first couple of steps in the book and looked back at mom’s sketch pad. They looked identical. “Good job” I thought and was pleased but still didn’t know what it was so I glanced up to the top of the page in the book to see the title of the drawing and it was “How to draw a parrot”. I raised my hand to my mouth and my eyes filled with tears and the smile now moved from my lips to my heart….”I love you too mom.”

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  1. Cathy R
    June 21, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Lara, that is so sweet. Your mom realizes what birds mean to you. Even though she may not have admitted it. I wish your mom the best in her recovery. My family is going through the same thing with my dad. God bless. Hugs, Cathy / Paloma Perch

  2. Susie
    June 22, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Lara, so sorry to hear about your mother. I am very close to my mom, y’all must have a special relationship, I am so blessed to have the wonderful woman I have for my mom. Your story really touched my heart & brought tears to my eyes. I will keep you & your family in my prayers.

  3. June 22, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Oh Lara, you must be so worried for everyone in your family right now. You are handling everything beautifully in and out. My best wishes girl.

    Caitlin N.

  4. Diana Mowery
    June 25, 2011 at 1:06 am

    So glad you shared your story with us. My prayers and thought s are with you and your Mom.

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