For the past 5 weeks, I’ve taken a class called Putting the Pieces Together, a memoir class that combines writing and collage. We wrote for the first few sessions about our lives and the important people in our history. Now we’ve begun to collage, using the stories, family photos, letters, and anything else we’d like. Today, I worked on a portrait of my grandmother, Nanny, my mother’s mother. Her name was Martha Elainer, my mom’s name was Martha Elaine, and I am Martha Joy. So I want to incorporate the three Marthas in my collage.
Nanny died when I was 12. I showed a picture of her and my mother to one of my writer friends and she noticed that I hardly look like my mother, but I’m almost a mirror image of grandmother.
This was inspired by a photo I have of her when she was in her early forties. In doing the portrait, I realized not only are our faces shaped the same, we both have a cowlick with gray hair on our right side. I love that drawing makes me notice such things.
She was one of 10 children. Her mother was Swedish and her father Syrian. They met in Memphis. She only had one child, my mother. My mother had 5 children, and I am the middle child.
Nanny was a wonderful cook and treated us to amazing sweets and desserts. She was fanatically religious, demanding, funny, old-fashioned. She was elegant and never wore pants, only dresses. She and my mother had a tumultuous relationship, but I loved her to pieces. I don’t remember if I ever told her. She was round and warm, and in spite of her eccentricities, she offered a safe harbor in my stormy childhood.
I’m drawing daily to help manage depression, long-term disability, and life in general. If you’d like to see the beginning of this project, you can see it here. You can also follow me through WordPress or on Facebook.
Your thoughts and shares are appreciated.