Saturday, December 12, 2009

Painting One's Mother, Preserving One's Youness

A wonderful little book you might like to read, called The Painting of You, by writer, poet and fellow blogger William Michaelian of Recently Banned Literature.

What can I say about The Painting of You except--go read it!  Once you open it up to the first page you will not be able to put it down.  There is something for everyone here--for poets, writers, mothers and sons, children and parents, caretakers, and readers of memoirs alike.

What's the book about?  It's an autobiographical account of a man caring for his mother who has Alzheimer's Disease; about his and her dreams, their family history, the struggle to maintain communication, the pain of watching a loved one slowly disappear as you become a stranger to them. 

In the book, Michaelian asks, in a poem, how he should paint his mother...

As a puzzled soul
looking out the window,
or a curious girl,
looking in?

And suppose the two
are friends--what then?

Does one begin
where the other ends?

Or must I paint them
both again, one as the other,
each as they have
always been?

The book is also about fatigue and weariness, aching limbs and decades-old dishtowels, and tea stains and powder clouds, "far too little and far too much", and ...  fleeting glimpses of grace.

Imagine a writer--any writer's--happiness at having been able to preserve, and share the moments of those difficult but important years, and to pass them on, as legacy, not only of the time and person written about ...  but the words themselves, as legacies.  Like threads being spun on a loom, each generation a band of connection, as if when one thread becomes tangled, or severed, an invisible hand emerges to find the missing loop, reconnect the link again, so that the whole of the picture remains forever intact.

I thought to write a review of this book but it would be really really difficult to top the one already written by Paul Martin over at The Teacher's View.   Read Paul's review here--he says it so much better than I ever could.

But truly--this is a very special book that one can read again and again.  If you want to get a copy,  information on ordering it in either print copy or as an ebook, can be found here.

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