In my momma’s house, there are many birds. Not live ones, but all kinds of ceramic, papier mache, feathered, carved, and painted birds adorning table tops, the dining room table, and various other spots. I think mom has only purchased one or two of them, the rest have been given to her. I don’t know whether it’s just my sister and I who give her these birds. I imagine that others have also over the years. For my sister and I, it all started with a painting.
Years ago, after having valiantly fought metasticized melanoma, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Through a series of sweet questions my dad posed to her, she became a painter. A wonderful, marvelous, color-filled painter whose works throttle the viewer with a language of color that harkens to mom’s own throttling of Joy even in the midst of dealing with the horrific loss of her parents, two different cancers, and all the surgeries and treatments they entailed. Below is just one example:
I wish I could show to you the painting she created very early on as she was teaching herself to paint in those early days of recuperating from a hysterectomy and chemotherapy. It was a self-portrait. There was a nest of baby birds, with their young beaks pointed skyward, awaiting sustenance from their parent birds. Right in the middle of this nest, was a profile portrait of my mom, hairless head raised to heaven, mouth open wide, ready to receive. It grabs my heart every time I think of it. It also grabs my heart that we no longer have this painting, as it was sold to a friend, who has since gotten rid of it.
That painting is why my sister and I give her birds. Mom is an embodiment of that verse…”consider the ravens…they do not sow or reap…” She has had to be completely dependent through not just two cancers, but now three. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was up in Boone helping out with her after-surgery needs for breast cancer. She is now a survivor of melanoma, ovarian, and breast cancer. This most recent cancer was, thankfully, caught very early, stage 1. But she will still undergo 30 treatments of radiation, starting in a few weeks.
Mom is still that bird, receiving help from on high, raising her sights to heaven, waiting for manna, and receiving it.