It was picked up a few weeks ago. What a project! It was just what I needed to get motivated and moving this year. And it was the perfect to reflect on my Grandma and Pa Cook...
Pub signs are something of a collection I have. Well, pictures of them anyway. All specific to Borrowash, Derby in England. My Dad and I visited his parents there 6 years ago this month. It was the last time I saw my Pa as he passed two years later. It was also the last time I saw my Grandma but she has continued on with her daily routine ever since.
My Grandparents brought my Dad and his sister to Canada when they were kids - some 50+ years ago. My Grandparents moved back when I was in about Kindergarten. It's funny, I have a very vivid memory of sitting on my Pa's lap colouring a red wagon (as I remember it) in a colouring book. Him teaching me about staying in the lines. Makes me smile to think about it now.
Clearly I haven't had the opportunity to be very close with Grandma and Pa because of the distance. Since they moved back I have been there twice and they were here twice. In 2010 I visited them with my Dad. One of the greatest trips of my life. My Dad has been going over every February for probably close to 10 years now, but that particular year I got to go as well. I'm forever grateful for that.
Of course we stayed with my Grandparents and walked with Grandma into town each morning to see what was on special a the grocery store. We watched all her game shows, Corrie Street and Doc Martin. Dad and I toured around the local areas checking out Pubs. I was specifically interested in The White Swan, remembering it from my trip when I was in grade 5. And Noah's Ark, supposedly a pub that my Grandma worked in at one point her life. I decided to take photos of all the pub signs hanging around the village. I would love to say that we ate in all of them, but we didn't. A few other names stuck with me like the Ye Olde Dolphin Inne. Which we did eat at, it was so neat. And The Twitchel Inn. We ate there as well. In fact, my Grandma bought Charlie a lamb stuffed animal while I was there and we named him Mr. Twitchel after that pub.
It's nice to go to a place like that with people who know the area. Listening to my Dad talk about being a kid at the park. Going into the now library which used to be his school. We even go invited in to this outstanding home in Borrowash while we were out to find out some more history of the area. The nicest lady just opened her door to us and gave us these books on the history of Derby and Borrowash.
What I haven't mentioned is that my Grandma is very sick. It's cancer. She didn't tell anyone. We found out at Christmas. Four days later my Dad was on his way over to be with her for a couple of weeks. This painting came a great time for me because it was the perfect way and time I needed to remember. It was a bit of mirror for me. The parallel of stories. I was able to paint away and think about the memories I have. To feel lucky I got to visit when I did. That I got to have a couple of conversations with Pa. That I got to sit with Grandma and sense where some of my "stuff" comes from. Like that feeling that if we had have lived closer to each other, we would have gotten along smashingly. She seems like a no fuss kinda lady. She is cheeky. We would team up on my Dad. She is also strong. She cared for my Pa all on her own when he was sick. Once he passed, she was still getting up everyday to walk into town. Maintaining her home and gardens. Going on bus trips. She seems to possess qualities that I am envious of. She seems so confident to me. I can only hope that some of that "stuff" is in me somewhere too.
As I write this, she is still alive. She is now in a nursing home and they say it won't be long. My Dad has been over again for a few more weeks to organize that move and talk with doctors. I can't imagine to be him and what he must be feeling. I know I feel sort of helpless from this far away.
In all my learning this past year, I've been told to use creativity as my outlet. To use it as a form of meditation. Which I think it always has been, I've just never acknowledged it as that until now. So what painting this table allowed me to do was reflect, focus, and send my thoughts and prayers to my Grandma and my Dad. I love you both! I thinking of you.
I'm grateful for this project. Here are some pics of the finished product.