A painting with a quotation from the beautiful mind Dr. Rita Charon (specifically, her book Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness)
We search the horizon … seeking ways to recognize ourselves and those around us, yearning to place ourselves within space and time (and infinity), dramatizing our stuborn beliefs that life means something and that we ourselves matter.
One of the walls in my grandmother’s living room had protruding plaster bulges. I watched them dance and wondered which concert or country or book they represented in my grandmother’s life. I pictured them grow and shrink with each remembering of a memory as it came up in her breathing and travelling thoughts. What if she picked up that small souvenir violin she bought in Prague and in response, her wall would hum along with the battery-powered toy? What if the wall remembered her life as she did?
I pictured two sweaty painters in tank tops come into her apartment with buckets, starting to throw balls of wet plaster onto the wall. I pictured my grandmother laughing with them and smiling to herself. I thought how lucky the painters were to get paid to throw things at walls and change them and bring them to life. How lucky they were to laugh with my grandmother and cool down in her apartment filled with classical music and air conditioning.
My grandmother’s life has lost its breath, along with its music and memories, so what does her wall remember now? Has it receded into itself to be flat like all the other walls?
Freshly painted walls echo
The sounds of thunder inside
A home for others,
Maybe also me.