Mortality around every corner

I walked into my studio this afternoon after thinking about my polish ancestors all morning. I stepped on a chair and reached for a box I thought the pictures of my ancestors were in. I heard a loud thump and looked down. I was shocked, there was a hammer that had hit the top of a painting on panel that was in a milk crate. All morning I thought about how my maternal great grandmother probably died quite young too, my mom never told us stories about her grandma, my dad never met my mom’s grandparents, so they must have died early. I wanted to go through the pictures in my studio to find more clues. The hammer narrowly grazed my head. I couldn’t believe I put a hammer on top of that box like that. I couldn’t believe I had almost just been severely injured. I got the box of old pictures down and got myself down safely. I grabbed some of the photos, one was a picture of a young girl with blonde hair. There were pictures of her at several ages, in more than one photo my grandpa held her, as if she were his own child. One, when the child was older, on the back of the photo was written “Our Darling”. There was one where this girl looked to be in a hospital dress, but she was sitting outside somewhere on a grass hillside. I wondered if my mom had an older sister who died who she was never told about. My mom always told me she was an only child. I painted with black gouache and white acrylic paint and charcoal. I went through phases of the pictures looking interesting to something in between. The murky past seeping into my studio today. The messy lines of ancestry, where do I intersect? Where do my kids intersect?

I wish I knew more about the journey my maternal great grandmother made from Poland to America. If I didn’t know what I do now about my family history, how would that change how I view my world? My life? My life expectancy. Knowing that heart attacks has killed my mom, her mom, and probably my mom’s mom has stoked my anxiety. I have little kids. I want more time. I am doing things to try to get more time, like changing my eating habits, but it’s difficult to be extremely strict, like I need to probably be to add years to my life. Today I started panicking about a mark on my arm that I’m worried is skin cancer. I almost got hit on the head by a hammer. How can a simple LDL blood test cause all this anxiety in myself?  How come I’m always moved by mortality? Is it because that is our inevitability?  Today I noticed a kid’s bible story book was left in my Husbands office. I read the first paragraph and it said that, the world was made, and God made the fish and the clouds, and many other things. I said to myself, wouldn’t that be nice? That God made everything, it was just that simple.

“I’d like to believe in something” My mom said once. To know that when we die we go somewhere. That this life wasn’t all there was. I would like to believe that too, that life wasn’t so short, that my time with Jack and Fiona will be so short, compared to the years I’ve already lived. I hope I’ll live a lot longer than my maternal lineage, I really do. I want to live a healthy life though, and disease is hard to evade. The confusion of this life is hard to figure out, it’s hard to know what moderation really is, how much we should fight our own genetics, how important genetics are at all. But we are our mother’s daughters. I looked at pictures of my mom and her mom, their bodies the same. Both were heavy, both carried weight in the same way. Neither would ever be skinny no matter what they did.

I was glad I made it into the studio today. I am glad I can see my pattern of anxiety; a bad test result sends me over the edge. I need to work in my studio to process this much emotion. I can’t help but think about my age and being an older mother. I’m glad alcohol gives me a headache or I would drink too much.

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Thoughts on Motherhood Through the Eyes of an Artist