Holding On and Letting Go

I painted this back in 2011, shortly after I visited my paternal grandmother, Mamaw, in the hospital. As a matter of fact, I even flew from my home in Virginia to Ohio to see her on short notice, as she was not in very good condition and we thought her life was ending. This painting is from a photo of me holding her hand in the bed.

holding hands

Mamaw is still alive today…albeit with severe Alzheimer’s in a nursing home in Columbus (very sad). I believe that she is 88 years old. On that day in 2011, I remember my grandfather, Papaw, was there too, and I think that I remember him saying that he wishes he would go first. He passed away a couple of years later (died in my Dad’s arms, as he was dressing him).

Mamaw is really, really old school. She grew up poor in rural West Virginia, Kentucky and southeastern Ohio. Just the other day, I was told that her mother, who didn’t believe in sleeping (???), would be up at 3am ironing clothes, with a pistol strapped to the ironing board, just in case. Ha! Just that little anecdote is enough to give an idea of what Mamaw is like.

If there is any silver lining in having Alzheimer’s, it’s that you say a lot of funny things (lots of good articles on Alzheimer’s here – http://alzheimers.mercola.com/). For example, when Mamaw saw my Aunt April a few months ago, it took her a few minutes to realize who she was (usually she doesn’t realize who anyone is). When she did, he said “Oh, you’re April? You look old”. When she met my son Rafael a couple of years ago, she said “Rafael….yuck. I’da named him David”. But she was still very sweet to him.

Rafy and Mamaw

Anyways, I think I’m going to donate the painting to a hospice. I just haven’t been able to hang it up in my home…it’s not the most joyous piece of work, but it does have a lot of feeling in it, especially related to end-of-life.


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