Thursday, April 17, 2014

A mother's lullaby

Have you ever listened, I mean, really listened to the lyrics of 'Twinkle, twinkle'? The words can truly take on different meanings, which is something I explored in moments of despair and moments of hope in my novel. 

When Ben goes to Sunrise Home to visit his mother, who has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, he wonders about her. Can he reach her, can he evoke some memory in her mind? Her body is intact, but is it now merely an empty shell? He knows not what she has become, who she is... In the background, an old woman's voice can be heard, croaking a lullaby. And somehow, the words take on a meaning of a heart-wrenching farewell:

"Then, to the sound of the thin, painful voice in the distance, breathing the words, Though I know not... What you are... Twinkle, twinkle... Little star, I glance at my mother. 
I wonder if what I am going to say about this or that photograph will make any difference, because now I am starting to lose heart. I doubt we can ever find a way—be it a way back, or a way forward—to connect to each other. 
The time I remember is no more than a wrinkle for her."



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In another scene, Anita raises her eyes to the musical animal mobile, which she has hung up overhead, for her baby. She sings the words as she crosses her hands around her body, embracing him. Expecting new life, the lullaby takes on a meaning of hope:

"For now, I mean, until I get a cradle for my baby, it’s hung up in the bedroom window, right in the center, where the blinds meet. 
So at night, when I feel sad, or tired, or just sleepy, I pull out the little string to wind the thing up, which makes the animals go fly—fly like a dream—so slowly around your head. 
And at the same time, it brings out a sweet lullaby, chiming, Twinkle, twinkle, little star... How I wonder what you are...
I stand here, by the window under the mobile. I touch the glass between one blind and another, and watch them animals, mirrored. They come in like ghosts, one after another, right up to the surface, swing around, and fly back out, into the dark. Then I gaze at them stars up there, so far beyond, and ask myself if they’re real—or am I, again, misreading some reflection." 

Anita in My Own Voice


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The subject of motherhood is near and dear to my heart, and I express it in my writing and in my art, as you can see here:



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