Little Elephants/Last Days

I was going to write today about some of the benefits of using an iPad Pro for drawing illustrations.  I even dreamed of this topic (or at least thought about it muzzily as I lay in bed.)   I was going to write about how drawing on paper is so much more fluid and original; how when I can get the courage up to add color (inks or soft pastel or some kind of paint), those paper pieces can be so much more rich and complex, but how I still often end up using the iPad Pro for illustrations, because the iPad, unlike inks, soft pastels, paint, can be readily used in a bed. (You may be sensing a pattern here.)  Perhaps, more importantly, the  iPad does a lot to mitigate the need for both courage and patience.  

An example of how the iPad can help to make an illustration can be found in the the little elephants above (completed on the iPad), and the unfinished paper sketch of the same little elephants below. (This was the basis for the iPad drawing.) 

But in the middle of thinking about these elephant drawings, I remembered that today was the beginning of the week of my mother’s death, which essentially lasted this whole week, some years ago. (My mother, at the end of her life, by the way, loved the iPad Pro; mainly for youtube algorhythms. I could type in a piece of music I thought she’d like and youtube would take her to another and another. It felt like magic to her, or, perhaps, a really good TV channel.)  

Though  when I think of my mother’s death week, I don’t think of the iPad. Rather I think of how she and I, and the rest of us too, rose to our best selves,  of how death can sometimes do that.  (I think of the way people speak so eloquently at funerals. How they often seem to transcend some inhibition, some self-consciousness, that dogs their normal speech.)

In my mother’s case, the nearness of death brought out a great generosity.  Yes, pain medication may have assisted, but a true shine was also there, as she made sure to thank everyone who came her way; to express deep gratitude, and in the case of each family member, a profound and specific love. 

In my case, the nearness of her death (temporarily) undid my will to avoid the moment, that endless bargaining with time. This morning, remembering it, I congratulated myself for calling up various family members from a hot Florida sidewalk as I took a break from the freezing hospital–to let them know that if they wanted to see my mother, that is, talk to her, they needed to come now.  When the option of much more convenient weekend flights came up–me, who typically tries to make things work for others as they would have them work, simply said that they should do what they could, shouldn’t feel like they had to come, but that if they wanted to see her, that is, talk to her, they had to come now.

And they did come. I don’t know how they managed it, but they too seized the moment.  And they did get to talk with her, and they would not have been able to wait. 

I feel so sorry, as I re-read this, to think of all those whose family members died of Covid, who did not have the togetherness of last days. 

It is raining steadily here. Through the upper part of the window, it looks beautiful, soft grays and greens, and the sounds of the rain, very gentle now, feel merciful.  Through the lower part of the window, though, are channels of brown water that have taken over the driveway and, most likely, the roads.  

Explore posts in the same categories: children's illustration, daughtering, drawings, Uncategorized

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8 Comments on “Little Elephants/Last Days”

  1. Jim Says:

    Love your elephants, sketch and colored versions. Sorry about your mom, when mine died I missed her like we should but it hit also me hit me that I was a kid, big one, without a mother. All my life I had one, her.
    Been missing your writing.
    ..

  2. Helen Says:

    Your post brings back memories of those last few weeks of my mother’s life. Bitter and sweet. Privileged to hold her in my arms as she slipped away … stay safe in the rainy stuff.

  3. Marian Says:

    Wonderful to see you, Karin. xo


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