When I went to visit my Gram a couple of weeks ago I was so amused that she had been saving something for me to see, for quite awhile, because it was so unusual and funny. I was unaware that this would, cause me to have a major epiphany about my Gram and me. This past weekend I spent some time with her again and this time she had another surprise for me to see. I at the same time, had a total light bulb moment, about Gram and myself.
My Gram raised myself, my two brothers and sister, and uncle , since I was 7. Along with my Dad, we lived in Toms River, New Jersey. She took care of us alone after he passed away when I was 14. When I was in my growing years, Gram and I did not get along very well. I was a creative, and a very emotional teenager and Gram had a lot on her mind and heart. I never felt like we could even remotely relate to anything we were thinking about or feeling. We just didn’t get each other! You know, the teenager years can be awful for the Moms, Dads and yes, even “the Grams”! My Gram did not talk very much during those years and I knew she was always deep in thought about something in her life. My grandfather had passed away when Gram was 50, not too long after she started raising my younger brother Ken. He was 2 years old when Gram began the journey of caring for him and then for myself, my siblings along with her son, my uncle Ron. When Ken was 5 years old, we joined him at Grams.
As I mentioned, during the teenage years, Gram and I were never really close and I never really knew much about her life. Now my Gram is 97 years old and despite her very swollen legs, she is still hanging in there.. (Sometime in the future, I’d like to share the story of my Gram and her life because it is so fascinating. She has experienced many challenges and she had to endure a lot of stress from the time she was a little girl. But for now, I want to talk about this hidden part of Gram that has really revealed itself to me in the last few weeks) I have had an awakening about Gram and her life.
A couple years ago, my Gram and I worked on an art project that she had wanted to create. My Gram loves to cut out little, funny and cute images from magazines and paste them on her refrigerator, cabinets and wall. Gram found this great imagery on a grocery store bag and decided to cut it out with a pair of little scissors. She went at a very slow pace and it took her many hours. The image consisted of some large strawberries and many connected vines. Gram loves every thing strawberries. The design was quite complex and I was amazed how my Gram did this without cutting an opening in the design. It was entirely one piece! I picked up a stretched canvas for her and together we pasted the image down on the canvas and decoupaged it. It went down on to the canvas smoothly without a problem, as we worked together to lay it out, flat and unwrinkled! Just like Nat King Cole and his daughter Natalie Cole doing their duo performance together with the help of technology, Gram and I together created a work of art! She proudly, has it hanging on her wall in her kitchen and loves to show it off to everyone that stops by her house.
What has the light bulb moment been? Well, Gram saved a strawberry for me for two weeks ago, to show me the three bumps that it had. It looked like a pig from the side view. She was fascinated by it and it amazed me that she had noticed this peculiar fruit and wanted to share it with me. Again, this past weekend, she saved a potato for me to see. It looked like a “baby’s behind” as Gram had told me, and she thought it was so cute! She couldn’t wait to show it to me. I was again, quietly tickled by her observations of the strawberry and potato. I have begun thinking and have come to realize that Gram has always been a creator at her core and no one, not even myself, had recognized it all these years. She was never really able to express this talent because of the direction her life had taken, as well as, the times she grew up in. Women were not encouraged to pursue art or any career for that matter. Gram had over the years done some ceramics, some sewing and she loved to paint the walls in her house, however, thee awareness of this had eluded my conscious thoughts. I never made the connection! I have often wondered, where I got my creativity from and always believed it was from my Dad. I never actually thought through “where did my Dad get it from?” He most definitely got it from his mother, my Gram. What a journey my Gram and I have been on, to realize that we do have some thing in common. I am amazed to come to the realization that indeed we share this incredible gift and the one thing that is so dear to me, my creative ability. Gram had this ability all these years. It was hidden from the world. Possibly, because no one acknowledged she had talent?
Gram and I see each other from a different perspective now. We get along so nicely and we talk a lot about making things. When I go to visit her, I bring lots of interesting stuff to show her such as pretty buttons, felt, fabric, pretty paper and the most recent stuff I am working on. She loves to look at all of it. ,I think that it was not just the making of the strawberry canvas, that has made me realize Gram has the “creative gift”, but the simple fact that Gram saved the strawberry and potato for me to see! It was that Gram was so observant to notice them at all and even more that she wanted to share this creative insight with me. I see my Gram as whole being now and someone who shares my talent. I have wondered if Gram were to be able to express art and creativity in her life, what she may have created! For now, I am comforted that for all the years I lived with Gram and thought we had nothing in common, and all the years after, Gram and I share a very special gift. We are artists.