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  • Writer's pictureElana

Memory through art

Yesterday my dear friend Jodi lost her mother, who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. I am struck with grief for someone I never actually knew, and filled with sympathy for the loved ones she has left behind.

Jodi has such a beautiful story about how she found a connection to her mom through her paintings (one of which we have a print of in our house). Here is her story:

“Ann’s Greenlake ~ Our Story My mom, Ann Norton, has always been a proud woman, one who let very few people if any get close to her, including me. At age 74 while walking near Greenlake where she lived for over 30 years, my mother was hit by a car. The accident landed her in the hospital and eventually a rehabilitation facility for a broken knee. The doctors at the facility pulled me aside to suggest she take a memory test to confirm their suspicions of dementia. I was shocked when she could not answer what year we were in or who the current US President was. She was capable of covering up her memory impairment quite well from those around her…until now. When the reality of her diagnosis finally sunk in I knew the road ahead was going to be a long, treacherous one for both of us. While going through our family home, to my surprise, I discovered hundreds of paintings my mom had created. As I looked through them, I remembered seeing her sit in her window seat, dabbing paper with a paintbrush. I asked her once what she was doing and she simply replied, “Oh, just doodling.” As I went to take a closer look, I was amazed at how beautiful her “doodles” were. I told her so. She said, “It just helps calm my nerves and keeps my mind at ease.” What was so amazing about her art was the emotional connection I felt immediately just looking at it. Her art spoke to me like she never had. There is a quiet serenity about her paintings though they harbor powerful emotions. They hold a sense of humor, a personality, perhaps a piece of her soul that communicates the joy and charm she didn’t express in her everyday life. When she felt compelled to paint, she simply grabbed any nearby scrap of paper, back of a product carton, or a piece of a cardboard box to get started. I am blessed to feel this connection to my mom through her art. This connection as well as the emotion and beauty of my mom’s paintings are what drove me to share Ann’s Greenlake with you.” – Jodi Norton

Jodi now sells her mother’s artwork, with a portion of proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association to help fight the disease that took her mother from her. You can see some examples of her art by visiting her Facebook page or her website. I never met Jodi’s mom, but I feel a loss nonetheless. Even though in past years she wasn’t truly herself anymore, Jodi always spoke of her with so much love. Just the other week she was telling us a story about how every time she would bring her long-time boyfriend, Dan, to visit, her mother would ask “who’s this guy?” Even through such confusion and sadness (probably unintentionally) her sense of humour shone through. Perhaps it’s because of these stories and the love that Dan & Jodi clearly had for her that I feel a connection with her too. Or maybe it’s Jodi’s discovery of the emotional connection she felt through her mom’s art that resonates with me as I’ve found my own comfort in mosaic art and have chosen a more artistic direction than I ever though I’d take. I am amazed at how strong and supportive Jodi has been in the face of her mother’s suffering. But I know that even though her mother’s death means the end of that difficult chapter, it introduces a different chapter with new feelings and difficulties. Please show your support for Jodi by visiting her page and admiring her mother’s legacy. I am so glad we have a print of her beautiful “It’s Raining Zins” painting (shown below) in our home to remind me of the importance of family and the healing power of art.

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