NHT's Studio

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 …

a Lithuanian Catholic she had a deep Marian devotion
which she lovingingly 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 when Gram's flowers
burst through the Earth in abundant glory  ...
(she could plant a stick and get a rose bush)

in my mid-20s, i wanted to explore beyond New England - and the picture was taken the day
before i left it was the late 70s

while adventure ahead called to me, 
my heart was heavy to leave Grandmother …
though she preferred to be called Gram,  to me
she is Grandmother in the highest, purest  sense,
and i 
wanted to leave her with something unforgettable 
to both of us.

i sat drinking tea as she rinsed dishes at the sink –
every so often she'd d look out the sink window  
to Our Lady 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 and to be avoided ...

i knew and apologized immediately, then brought the conversation back to her eyesight, 
to which Grandmother made an expected, disapproving grunt,
but i pressed; and finally she confessed – to 80 something year old vision, 
the unpainted 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 her beloved Blessed Mother
so that she could see her clearly from the kitchen window once again.

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related reading:  the old lady, a poem
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