George Farrell: The art in life
|By George Farrell - Contributing Writer | March 16, 2017|
For me, this is the time of year for reflection; to both look back at the year just past, and ahead to what the next few months might reveal. Twenty sixteen was a tough time for our family. Just about a year ago, mom had a fall that broke her hip. The incident seemed to quicken her slide down the slippery slope of dementia, and now she’s in Highland Wood. Mom, at 91, has terrific physical vital signs, but she’s in her own little world mentally, with those ‘good and bad days’ you’ve all heard about.
My dad and I go at least five times a week to see her. He’s 94 and still living at home in Minden. But he’s lonely and anxious to join mom. He’s presently on a waiting list. This is that interminable in-between time for dad and me, which perversely parallels the weather, neither spring nor winter, but some kind of purgatory where ‘hurry up and wait’ is the mantra being sung by confused birds and also by our inner demons. It’s also that time of my life where the legal mantle of authority, that power of attorney, is slowly coming my way when I’m not that far removed from passing on that particular torch myself.
At this precipitous time, I give thanks for art and music. I’m using both expressive forms as a diversionary tactic to stave off misery. I seek solace in music, the blues specifically, and my ravaged heart at least gives forth with real emotion whenever I sing; sometimes in silent internal accompaniment to a tune on the radio, or with musical friends who give me the opportunity to get out some of what’s going on inside.
For my mom, who was once a fine spinner and weaver and who was also at the forefront of the early arts movement the Highlands, art in the form of knitting and drawing classes, gives her life in Highland Wood a sense of purpose. It also gives her the opportunity to be with people, and whereas at home she was in a cocoon of her own making, at the long-term care facility she has made friends, and is interacting in a way she hasn’t done in years. Art can do that. But it couldn’t happen without considerate programming and a compassionate staff. Mom also enjoys the music events that happen quite frequently at Highland Wood, and I most heartily thank those musicians who take the time to entertain our elderly and infirm patients. Consequently, mom is much happier where she is than she was at home. The only missing ingredient is dad. But hopefully he’ll be with her soon enough.
Looking ahead, I realize that the range of emotions I go through every day actually helps in creating a more insightful me, and I’d like to use these experiences to create: vocalizing nuances I’ve not expressed before, a more empathetic base to my writing, and a different perspective that will result in some new aspects to my image-making.
On a broader palette, I hope, too, that other creators in the Highlands, specifically artists, come to grips with their own conflicts, and that they use those particular by-product energies to produce not just pretty pictures, but art that truly reflects the human condition.
George Farrell is a contributing writer for The Highlander.