Life Interrupted | Life in a psychiatric facility #4

Stepping between the tiles, walking the corridors slowly, I stopped at a new painting of a flower. It wasn’t particularly beautiful, in fact, it was a poorly painted red poppy, but it reminded me of my grandmother. She always painted poppies when I was young. Her husband went to war and it felt like her tribute to his sacrifice.

I realised I had forgotten to call her on her 93rd birthday, January 31st.

Grandma was an artist. She was incredibly talented. Drawing Australian landscapes and flowers, embracing colour and passion. She moved into a nursing home, frail, sick but continued to paint. Painting kept her sane, hopeful. As she paints, each stroke kept her blood pumping and the fire burning inside her. She was stubborn, determined and strong.

One day her right arm gave up, it seized, useless and no longer allowed her to paint as she once knew. But her flame kept burning, and against all odds, she picked up a brush in her left hand and taught herself to paint again. A different style, harder to convey her vision, but she kept going.

As fortune had it, she then lost mobility in both her hands and legs. Completely immobile, she was no longer able to express her craft. Gripping her lifeline, she closed her eyes and continued to paint with her imagination. Her mind projecting extraordinary visions. She wasn’t letting go.

I realised the lessons I had learned from a strong, beautiful 93-year-old lady, laying lifeless in a hospital, continuing to paint with her mind.

One should never give up, creativity can be as powerful as oxygen and, I had to breathe mine.

I am currently working on a book regarding this topic. Any comments on this piece would be greatly appreciated. I’d love to hear from you.

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