NHT's Studio

Statuary: 
the first project


The white-haired lady in the picture is Pa’s wife
the Elder from whom i learned
about the Green Kingdom and much, much more …
her grandchildren called her "Gram" and so did i,
even though to me she embodied "Grandmother"
wise and healing, and gently formidable ...


a Lithuanian Catholic she had a deep Marian devotion
which she lovingly expressed each May 1st
(weather willing) when Our Lady of Grace, 
a greytone cement garden statue 
was enthroned on a carpet of myriad silk flowers,
to be replaced sometime in May, as soon as Gram's flowers
burst through the new england Earth in abundant glory  ...
(Gram could plant a stick and get a rose bush)

the day the picture at right was taken in the late 70s,
the last time we would see each other...
adventure ahead called to me, and i was leaving the next day -
little did i know that day, the adventure would be a decades long, 27,000 mile road trip around the country to keep ahead of truant officers because i would soon be homeschooling my children at a time when it was illegal to do so...  
this day, i knew none of that,
only that my heart was heavy to leave Gram …
and i wanted to leave her with something unforgettable 
to both of us, to join us together for all time.

i sat drinking tea, watching her rinse dishes at the sink –
every so often she'd stop and gaze through the sink window, 
to the unpainted BVM lawn statue beyond in her garden. 


Nay_ho_tze and her Grandmother
the BVM, Gram and NHT, late '70's

i suddenly  had a thought.  “Gram,” i said, “can you still actually see Mary?”

“Don’ call her dat,” she ‘scolded’ me in her wonderful broken English. “She don’ like dat”  -
meaning, such familiarity was disrespectful to the Blessed Mother and to be avoided ...

i apologized immediately, then brought the conversation back to her eyesight, 
my perseverance met by an expected, disapproving grunt from Gram,
but i pressed; and finally she confessed – to vision over 8 decades old, 
the cement statue's details were more memory than eyesight anymore.

that’s when i knew what to do – i might not be able to draw but i could certainly paint a statue ...
and that's how i painted life into Grandmother's beloved Blessed Mother
so that she could see her once again clearly from the kitchen window.

-NHT
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related reading:  the old lady, a poem
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