I’m so delighted to be the featured artist on the Personal Histories Artist Book Exhibition blog. It’s an honor! Please visit the site of lovely people Glenn and Robyn Foster who are putting this exhibit together.
I’m submitting images from a series I’m working on called Silent Echoes about the lives of women. I knew, but never understood in my bones, the sacrifices women make till I had to take care of my elderly father. The day my mother died, I went back to their apartment and found him having a heart attack and a stroke. The doctors at Beth Israel Hospital weren’t sure he would make it, but he did and lived till 93.
But he couldn’t be on his own anymore, so I gave up my apartment and went to live with him. It was the best thing I ever did, but the hardest. As they say of piloting an airline, lots of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.
Back to the ladies. At some point in their lives, probably more than once (and for some continually), women have to shoulder huge burdens they never expected to. It could be a grandmother raising a grandchild, a mother caring for an ill relative, a daughter (yes, this part is self-referential) caring for elderly parents. It takes so much of your life, so much psychic and physical energy, so much time, yet often is unrecognized. Or brushed aside with a few words.
I remember the lawyer saying, “you can go live with him.” Well, hello, I had a life! I had my own place with my own furniture and stuff. Actually, quite a lot of it. I decided to do things slowly, at my own pace. That gave me time to go over to the apartment and mope. I was quite down. When I finally finished moving in with Dad, there were duplicates of…everything. A vast number of armchairs, two dining room tables and God knows how many chairs. Filing cabinets? Oh, plenty. We had everything.
My mother had been ill for a while, and both my father and I were exhausted. When he came home from the hospital (in time for her funeral), he had to lie down every afternoon for a couple of hours.
But slowly he got better. At first he was annoyed by the constant attention of women (me and his very nice aide, Janice), then it dawned on him that he had acquired a retinue of servants, and he settled nicely into a lordly routine. Tasty meals were brought to him on a tray. Magazines and books were laid on his table. He went out every afternoon, sat on a bench and greeted the neighbors as they came home. Holidays were observed, with special gustatory treats. He was a happy old man.
But it was a long time out for me. So tip your hat to the ladies in your life. They do a lot.