Today, five years ago, my mother died just three weeks after being diagnosed with lungcancer, altough she never smoked a single cigarette. We as children, grandchildren, were very sad to lose her.
I still miss her a lot. I think about her every day in one way or an other. Today I though about how she would talk about her plants on the balcony. No matter how well they did, she would look at every leaf with deep interest and see a flourishing plant even if it was only this one leaf that was green.
In short: she was able to see life where a lot of us would never see it.
Mum, these flowers are for you! Today I will live my life looking at and cherishing the small things like that one green leaf on an almost dead plant.
this image is available as print on several products here
Today I started a new diary/sketchbook/artjournal. Number 75 since 2010, when I started writing every morning. Over the years my diaries have turned into my ‘land of freedom’. I write, paint, draw or make plans in them.
I painted this little girl on the front of this book. She reminds me of myself as a little child. I remember the pure excitement I used to feel. The happiness of just being alive, I guess. Every day filled with new adventures, new stories.
I want her to lead the way these coming weeks, when this book will accompany me. Up to that same excitement of being alive! Go girl! Go!
Yesterday I ran into the first new-born chickens in the neighborhood. This always inspires the feeling of spring in me, although it must be said that the chickens near my house have new offspring about every two months, except maybe in the winter.
Anyway, this morning I suddenly painted this chicken and he reminded me of the time when we got some new-born chickens when I was a child. We children got them from someone, without our parents knowing about it. So we got home with this box with four or five of the cutest and softest yellow balls in it.
I remember the frowned face of my mother. We got the lecture about having to take very good care of them all by ourselves and we could keep them ‘for a while’. It didn’t take very long before the cute balls turned into big, noisy and stinky chickens that we as children couldn’t contain anymore. We were actually a bit afraid of them.
One day they were gone, I guess to a place better fit for chickens. My mother was a wise woman to let us keep them ‘for a while’ and it was okay for us to lose these pets. They weren’t as suitable to cuddling as they seemed to be in the beginning.
When I was 11 years old we moved from the south of the Netherlands to the west near The Hague. We considered The Hague, without ever actually having been there, a very aristocratic city. At least that is what we in the south thought it was. Later of course we discovered that it was just like every other middlesize city in the world, namely a collection of a lot of different neighbourhoods where people with different backgrounds live. And yes, there were also parts of the city that were quite dignified.
What we didn’t have in the south though were certain types of stately shops. Shops you would never enter on your own, certainly not as a child. My mother loved these shops in The Hague. I don’t think that she was particulary fond of the stuff they sold. A lot of it was very expensive and to be honest quite tasteless and ugly.
I think what she loved was the ambiance and the adventure of walking around in those expensive shops, of pretending she was a lady that could afford to dress her children there. The last thing wasn’t the case at all since we were with seven children and I mostly wore clothes that were transferred to me by my elder sister who had outgrown them.
Anyway, my mother would sometimes take (some of) us on her adventure to Maison de Bonneterie, one of the most expensive and oldfashioned of the warehouses in The Hague. The sport was to buy something there that we could actually afford and that still had the Maison de Bonneterie feel around it. It would usually be a little piece of soap or a very small towel. In the meantime we would take a good look at the people walking around. On the bus home we would tell eachother about what we had seen and we would make a lot of fun about it.
How I would love to take my mother one more time to the Bonneterie. Sadly neither she nor Maison de Bonneterie are among us anymore.
mixed media on squared moleskine paper
Tomorrow I’ll welcome all my six brothers and sisters in my home.
Most with their partners and some with their children.
It will be a gathering of about 20 people.
We will remember our parents who are no longer among us.
They would have had their birthdays on februari 19.
Yes, they were born exactly three years apart.
As children we thought that it was a normal thing for parents to have their birthday on the same day.
Tomorrow we will be together in their name and have a party as if they are still alive.
Actually it feels like they are still among us.
I can still imagine what they would say in a particular situation.
I haven’t forgotten their laughs and certainly not their love.
For eachother and for all of us.
Happy birthday, Mam and Dad, wherever you are!
Carnaval: het kwam het zomaar tevoorschijn uit mijn ‘willekeurige’ lijnen van vandaag. Ik heb niets met carnaval. Blijkbaar ben ik toch volkomen verwesterd.
Vroeger, opgroeiend in het diepste zuiden van ons land, was dat heel anders. Als carnaval eraan kwam,was ik zo blij, zo opgewonden, zo vol van gespannen verwachting.
Op de katholieke meisjesschool waar mijn zusjes en ik zaten, was het de enige keer in het jaar dat het allemaal wat losser was. Dat we niet stijf gerangschikt achter elkaar in bankjes zaten.
Met carnaval leerden we carnavalsliedjes en kwamen we verkleed naar school. Behalve de nonnen dan, maar die waren natuurlijk altijd al verkleed.
En na carnaval moesten we met de slechtste kleurpotloden die er bestonden, waar geen kleur vanaf kwam, bedoel ik, op een piepklein papiertje tekenen hoe het was geweest, dat grote feest. Voor mij een onmogelijke opgave!
Nee, creatieve vorming had op die school nog niet zoveel te betekenen. Gelukkig zorgde mijn vader ervoor dat hij alle verpakkingsmateriaal waarop geschilderd kon worden van zijn werk mee naar huis nam. Met die creatieve vorming kwam het dus toch nog goed.