Lola, as my mom is lovingly known (Lola means “grandmother” in Tagalog), celebrated her 94th birthday last weekend. The greatest tribute I could give my mother is to write a story about her beautiful heart. On her birthday I had the honor of presenting for the first time an essay entitled “Messy Edges” at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This story briefly encapsulates the beauty and the heartbreak of caring for my mother in my home for eight years, and the release I found during that time through the gift of watercolor painting. The essay is published in an anthology entitled, The Wonder Years, 40 Women over 40 on Faith, Aging, Beauty and Strength, edited by my dear mentor and friend Leslie Leyland Fields.
(excerpt from “Messy Edges)
My mother is still with me as I write this. Today, I stop when she notices a red geranium, just like the ones she used to have outside her home.
“What flower is that, Mom?” I ask her.
She looks at it and smiles. “Geranium,” she whispers.
She smiles and time stands still. She pushes me to see beauty and wonder in every small thing, as if for the first time. My mother, even in her illness, gives me this gift, this gift of seeing. When I paint, these are the moments I try to capture. A field of sunflowers, a field of lavender. I try to keep the colors pure and vibrant on the paper, not muddied. I try to use brushstrokes that remain fresh and lively, not overworked. For previously I was holding on, too tightly, to the brush, to mom’s health, to life, afraid to loosen the grip, to lose control of the things I could not control. Now I understand that beauty unfolds in the letting go, in allowing the messy edges to bleed.
My story is one of many, glimpses into the lives of 40 women and the firsts, lasts, and always moments they have experienced during this season of life. I am honored to have Lola’s story tucked between authors I admire such as Ann Voskamp, Elisabeth Eliot, Madeline L’Engle, Luci Shaw, Brene Brown, Lauren Winner and Jill Kandel. Each story is beautifully crafted, leaving the reader with a takeaway that could make you laugh out loud, cry, or sigh in relief knowing someone else shares your voice.
The greatest joy of this story is the hope and strength I have received in being able now to transform a difficult time in my life and my family’s life into a place of encouragement to others along the same journey.
Please pick up your copy of The Wonder Years today on Amazon. If you need more convincing, please check out Lola’s promotional video below! I had the privilege of reading it out loud to her, and she wholeheartedly approves.
“What more important, Lola? Faith, Beauty or Strength?”
“All of them,” she says with a smile.