Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Will Sing With You, Included in AAQI Traveling Exhibit

I Will Sing With You, Art Quilt, 9" x 12"
© 2010 Fannie Narte

When Ami requested that I recreate "Remember Us" for consideration for possible inclusion in the traveling exhibit beginning in 2011, my first thought was: How do I make another quilt that's different from the original and keep the essence of the original idea?

My anxiety disappeared as soon as I looked at the pile of hand painted fabrics sitting on the table. I knew what I was going to do. A picture of the completed quilt appeared in my mind's eye, and all I had to do was create it. Things just flowed.


The idea for this quilt was inspired by an experience I had while visiting a patient in a nursing home.

The following words were free-motion stitched onto the background of this quilt.

When our history
blurs, help
Remember Us.
Sing me our song,
and I will sing
with you.

Imagine losing all your history. No memories of your relationships. No memories of your family members. No memories of birthday cakes, the sound of family on Christmas morning, or the smell of freshly baked cinnamon bread in the kitchen.

No memories of your son's first date.
No memories of your daughter's wedding day.
No memories of your grandchild's first step.
No memories of your high school art teacher.

But sometimes, during those rare few seconds,
you hear that song, and you remember,
you remember for those precious few seconds,
that magical moment,
and your family's hearts dance,
for a lifetime.


When I first joined Ami's cause three years ago, there was no one in my circle of family or friends "that I knew of" with Alzheimer's.  All of my inspiration for my quilts came from my experience as a musician/singer.  The magic that happens when music unlocks closed hearts is inspiring!  Stoic patients smile with forgotten emotion, heavy hearts dance with joy, the lonely drop their chains of feeling unaccepted and sing along, the widows and widowers express gratitude of reliving a few moments of the good 'ole days they danced to that "special song" with their sweethearts.  These golden experiences are the inspiration for my first 43 art quilts.


After an absence of seven long years, I enjoyed a beautiful reunion with my family and friends in Hawaii.  One of my cousins asked "Why were you gone for so long?"  I must admit, that question startled me.  I didn't know the answer to her question, and my attention immediately scanned the last ten years looking for an answer.  Could it be because I had some hidden unresolved emotional feelings?  Is it because two of my last trips to Hawaii were to bury my brother and to bury my father, two painful events only three months apart?  As the oldest, the responsibility of both events were on my shoulders.  Perhaps I closed my heart in order to survive?  Did those experiences also close my heart to Hawaii?

I don't know . . .

What I do know is that my heart was refilled with joy and love.  I recently spent almost three weeks in Hawaii revisiting old haunts, celebrating my mom's 75th birthday with a surprise visit, meeting adult cousins I last saw as toddlers . . . still being referred to as a "geek" by a long-lost cousin . . .


I had many choice experiences, but the one that relates directly to this post is a special dinner my husband and I attended with our cousins and their mom, Lucy; our Aunt Lucy.  Aunt Lucy is a retired U.S. Postmaster.  For many years, she placed thousands of bills, packages and recorded memories of loved ones into mail boxes.  Aunt Lucy once delivered written memories to Laupahoehoe residents, and now she was struggling to hold on to her own memories.  I experienced first-hand the effects of Alzheimer's on the patient and the family.  She could recall with clarity the memories of long ago, but her recall of the present was sketchy.

We spent about an hour's time with each other, but the experience burned a hole in my heart.  The well from which I gather my inspiration for creating my AAQI art quilts has been added to by Aunt Lucy, and I was eager to return to my studio. 

Now that I'm back in my studio and playing with fabric and ideas, I'm learning that a heavy heart can freeze creativity. I'm tangled in the memories of the inspiration and experience with Aunt Lucy and the emotions of an Alzheimer's family . . . . and I hope my heart stays open . . .

AAQI August Art Quilt Auction is Live.  Take a look at all the quilts . . .


Scrappy Cat said...

Oh Fannie - I'm so sorry your Aunt Lucy is struggling with Alzheimer's - it is such a tragic disease. I also don't have first hand experience with it, but my heart goes out to you and your family. And I know your heart will stay open - that is just who you are.

Fannie said...

Thanks, Cheryl. My heart will remain open because of caring friends like you . . . thank you. ♥♫♥

Linda Moran said...

Alzheimer's is awful, but you are bringing beauty in the midst. I'm glad you were able to return to Hawaii....I miss my years there. This is a beautiful post.

Sherry said...

The emotions and feelings from your experience will run deep and most likely never be forgotten. However, the experience will spark a positive and endless drive to live each day going forward as if there is no tomorrow. Use that positive energy of yours to continue on your journey and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do for AAQI.

Diane said...

Your art is a poitive and powerful tool against sadness and pain, Fannie. We will prevail!