My mother was one of "those" people. The person who can do just about anything well, renaissance (wo)man, a Jane. As a child she showed creative talent early, and was playing tunes by ear on the piano by the age of 2. As an adolescent, she was a semi-professional dancer and talented painter. As an adult she was a fabulous cook, composed wonderful music, and played a mean church organ. She painted beautifully, sketched amazingly, and apparently weilded the knife with skill.
The picture above is of a sculpture made from balsa wood that my mother carved. Balsaman, as we named him, stood sentry over our lives during my entire childhood and teenage years on a little display block hanging on the wall above our sofa. Being made from such lightweight wood, it didn't take much for him to topple from his post, and he got knocked off on a weekly, if not daily, basis. His head would break off each and every time, and my mother would very carefully glue it back on and replace him, whole again, upon his block. Another day would roll around, some child would slam the door a bit too hard, and Balsaman would need mending once more. Through the years when she was focused on raising children, working and finishing up a doctoral degree, Balsaman continued to stand for the creative side of her that she always steadfastly held to.
Balsaman is mine now, and he sits in a display box above the sofa in my family room. I have always loved his relaxed and thoughtful pose, as if he is lost in the imaginings of his own soul. There are many days I've felt just like that. He was beheaded again recently, and I made the unfortunate mistake of using "the strongest glue on the planet" on him for the very first time. I learned that Gorilla Glue expands fourfold during the drying process, and now Balsaman looks as if he's dressed for winter in a scarf. I am contemplating 'restoring' him, but I need to do some research into how exactly that should be done. I don't want another 'learning experience' that might do more damage to this treasured item.
My family always encouraged us to pursue and develop any special talents or interests we might have. As a child, I took art lessons on Saturday mornings from the local artiste whose studio was in the unused wing of the local historical museum. I so loved those hours I had to explore the concepts of line, color, form, and also to physically explore that mysterious building. I swam on the local team, dove competitively, took dance lessons, and was a slave to the piano from five to fourteen. I took up the clarinet in middle school, and had thoughts of playing professionally until I decided that eating really was that important to me. I went through a creative dry spell during my working years as I was focused on my career and marriage. In the last 2 years I have been better about making time for creative self, and have found my current passion: digital photography and photoediting. I'm having so much fun with it. I know that this would have made my mother happy, to see me expressing myself and using the talents God has given me. I'm a bit sad that we were never able to share this part of my life.
My mother died in 2001 after a harrowing, year-long battle with lung cancer. Today would have been her 62nd birthday. I'm so glad I have Balsaman as inspiration to hold fast to the creativity that makes me uniquely me, for I am my mother's daughter.
Happy Birthday, Mom.