Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Tatiana Papers 3

among my mother's things are letters i wrote her, cards i sent her, photos i gave her, and drawings i made her. she kept a lot of it.

this charcoal pencil drawing is not dated. but if the drawing of the girl is a self portrait, i may have made it in 1991, when i lived in seattle, the year i turned 24. i cut off my waste length hair shortly after i moved there, scissors to braids, and sported a shaggy, multi length look. by the time the year was up, my hair was shaven off altogether.

just doodles that i made in communication with my mother. the blob in the middle is cyprus. the mountains and sea and cozy cottage speak of washington state, but clearly my mind was set on a path elsewhere.

she visited me in seattle toward the end of my time there, in early 1992. she stayed in the airy arty apartment i shared with three men. we took a week long trip down the olympic peninsula and into oregon, driving through clear cut land and indian reservations, staying in cold, cheap, coastal motels. it was probably one of our closest times together. 

i'd had a confusing year in that magical city. i was sad and ready for a change. she was understanding and supportive at a time when i was most lost. shortly after her visit i traveled to california and never returned to the puget sound

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Tatiana Papers 2

This bible has pages falling out and torn. It's missing its center tile. The spine is disintegrating. It seems that Jerusalem was etched over with blue pen ink.

When I Googled Mother of Pearl Jerusalem bible, I found many just like this, but with the Star of David in the center. Who knows, maybe I'll find that missing tile among my mother's things.

I don't know the story behind this bible, how it came to her. She had several index cards tucked into it with notes on biblical characters. 

When I look at it closely enough, it almost looks like there is a stick figure drawn in pencil in the center, similar to the stick figures on that mysterious piece of paper.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Tatiana Papers 1

The curiosity of this piece of paper is what lead me to this exercise. I'm sure it's just a doodle, a passing note. I found it all crinkled up at the bottom of a box of photos. Stick figures, the inked bits, a Himalayan hut. Is it a play on words? Is russing supposed to be rushing?

And then there are the measurements. And the zeros? Surrounded by the names of Shakespeare plays. How old is this? I saw a Midsummer Night's Dream with my mother in Hyde Park in the late 70's. Why did this single piece of paper survive? Is it significant?

p.s. well the google has the answer. amazing how quickly something mysterious can turn into something, well, terribly pedestrian. the joke is below. the next questions is, really? she found this funny enough to write down, with an illustration to boot? and somehow it remains among her things?

 There is a whorehouse on a hill. There is one person going to it, one person leaving from it, and one person inside it. What are there nationalities?

The man going up is Russian,
The man going away is Finnish,
and the man inside is Himalayan.

The Tatiana Papers: An Introduction

i have very slowly been sorting through my mother's items; things that have landed in my possession in the last six months.

when she was shaken from remission and diagnosed with leukemia cutis (a systemic form that manifests as skin lesions) we were told the game was up. the doctor said she would be lucky to live two months. she managed four.

before she went into hospice, i would often leave her apartment with a mysterious bag or box she pushed my way, full of items i needed to distribute, donate, trash, or keep. she got to work on her grand purge with great focus and determination, even though she was often in excruciating pain and she felt nauseous most of the day.

on my side, the bags and boxes piled up. i had no time to sort. i was working, mothering my seven year old, running my mother's errands, taking her to daily treatments, trying to keep a house full of pets moderately tidy, researching possible assistance, preparing for yule, and finishing the day with an election-gone-to-shit. i am blessed with a very patient spouse who settled me down or heard me out. i had no time to sort.

my mother passed as peacefully as one might hope on feb 3, 2017. the months leading up to it feel like an eternity wrapped into a missile. six weeks after blast off i'm still trying to come down to earth. 

here on earth one of  my tasks is to sort through my mother's things while trying to orient to life without her. while my mother didn't have that much stuff—there are so many single items that vibrate with her essence, or emphasize her mystery. i don't want to pass up this study. i don't want to push her things into the crawl space where they will disappear under the things my family of four accumulates.

my mother would probably be appalled to know i'm about to blog about her private world. for me it's an exercise in archiving. i am a writer who hasn't had much time to write. an examination of what she has left behind will help me to emerge with a better perspective on our lives. it's a way to honor her too, whether or not she would approve!

maybe i won't come up with much, but here it begins. at the ending. 

a raw investigation of a woman alone.