Swirling, Almost Something

Smoke Art - I
Smoke art 1 -Flickr creative commons NeilBetter

 

An abstract painting full of swirling almost something shapes, hangs above the stairs in the hall entrance, and grabs the attention of all visitors to Nance’s.

Visitors, especially children, are always struck by it, and stop to gaze, as Nance asks them: ’What do you think it is?’ She adds their guess to all the others from earlier visitors and shares earlier interpretations, but only after they offer their own.

Nance attends University of the Third Age and is an avid reader, who has never stopped questioning and being open to the ways of the world.  Although, nestled in her seaside home she has in some ways retreated from the world and carved out a nest of memory and solitude to which others are welcome.

‘What he says makes a lot of sense,’ she is telling the story of some guru in India who she has recently been reading, and recommends him to me.  ‘No one has sole tabs on the truth,’ she muses.

‘So many pathways lead to the same God.’

The gifts of overseas travels and teaching sabbaticals with her husband are everywhere.  He is gone, (he passed away from a heart condition) and yet near in every conversation.  But this is no home of grief, but rather one where every memory is treasured and embodied in every object and the intangible it seems.

‘Yes, that’s from when Ray and I were at…’

Nance introduces us to ‘ginger kiss’ biscuits, her favourite thing to offer visitors, along with raisin toast and a cuppa.

Now, eating ginger kisses always reminds me of Nance and brings her advice back as if on fortune cookie paper running like a reel in my head.

She offers sage advice that has kept her in good stead all her life – things like ‘never go to sleep angry with your partner.’

‘If you can afford it get a housekeeper if you are working, don’t try to do it all.’

‘Children remember the love not how good a housekeeper you are’

She looks after a shack right next to her house, which is owned by the Quakers but which she can book people into too; it provides cheap accommodation for people wanting to escape the city.  A visitor’s book within is full of comments from people who have enjoyed staying in house, free from television, and other distractions.  It has fishing rods, board games and is a short walk to the beach.

We stay there a few times, next to Nance, in our own family space, but popping over for a cuppa and a chat during our time by the sea.

Later we go and live around the corner from Nance for a whole year whilst I am writing up my PhD.

Nance is a carer to many people, driving friends with cancer to hospital, picking up people without transport to bring them to meetings, and visiting those who cannot go out easily.

Nance’s house is neat, tidy, and a row of cyclamens dress the window sill.   She can look out to the ocean from her front veranda.

Her children and grandchildren visit now and then.  Later a daughter and husband will come and live in the house downstairs.

Nance shapes how I see time, true love and memory embodied in objects, spaces and people.   Her sage advice is imprinted on me and comes back when I need it most.

For me she will forever be in the painting full of swirling almost something shapes, each object of the house, ginger kiss biscuits, and intangible questions, when she, like Ray, is travelling in another spiritual realm.

Smoke Art - II
Smoke Art 2- Flickr Creative Commons Neilbetter

 

Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.

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