On Cello Strings and Borrowed Wings – A True Story
36”x48” Acrylic on Canvas.
The meaning behind this painting:
What began as an attempt to understand, process, and paint a near-death experience unexpectedly morphed into the start of a family history journey. A quest to reconnect with family, and to get to know my ancestors.
The tree is my Family Tree of Life: part family tree, part tree of life. She is the matriarch and the feminine of Life. Creation. Joy. Family. Bonds through and across generations. Health. Strength. Endurance. Steadfastness. Reaching to heaven. Grounded in earth.
She is Life.
The five icons (owl, hummingbird, butterfly, dog, and rose) represent my five healing angels who were with me during my ordeal. Five of my family members who have passed on. Five unique, wonderful, lovable, and loving women. Five incredibly strong women who lent their strength to me when I most needed it.
I knew before I began this painting that there were five healing angels, and I knew who two of those angel were. But it was through the Intentional Creativity process that I learned the identity of the other three. Together they are my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my great-aunt, and two aunts.
During the process of painting this story, I felt impressed upon to learn more about my healing angels. I began calling family members, and digging out old photographs. I gathered stories and the images to go along with them. I’ve learned so much that I wish I’d known while they were alive, and I wish I’d been old enough to know the elder women—especially my great-grandmother. Inspiration tells me that she is the matriarch of my angels. A woman whom, in life, was a strong, assertive presence, yet always poised, and eternally kind and loving. A woman who stood proud and unintimidated, well ahead of her day in the 1920’s and 30’s.
I knew my grandmother best. We had a special bond my entire life. Something beyond words. She passed away in January 2020. I had been her caregiver and I held her hand as she took her final breath and crossed the veil.
Two days later I was in the hospital, and before I went into septic shock I received two different messages from two different women telling me that as I’d been an angel to Grandma, so she would be an angels to me.
I didn’t understand until much later, as I regained consciousness and awareness after two days of surgery for septic shock. Doctors had fought hard all that time to find the perforation in my intestines and to keep my heart beating.
While I was still unconscious, my parents played cello music for me. It reached me and I remembered. I asked about it later. An anchor to this side of life.
I remember presences. I remember colors and warmth. I clung to this place—to the other side of the veil which I straddled. And later, as I began to wake, after they removed the intubation tube, my eyes still closed, I groggily announced the presence of family in the room. Family no one else could see.
Family—women—watching over me.
The faces faded from my mind as I stepped back into this realm with both feet. But the vague images and feelings and impressions remained. And I awoke with a sharply clear mess imprinted in my mind: family is infinitely more important than we have any idea about.
I lived. I had my healing angels by my side. My family. My grandma was my angel now. And she wasn’t alone.
Five incredible women. Strong women who had endured so much in life.
I am part of them. My family.
And I survived because of their guardianship.