The Scent of Lavender

Northern Flight

Oil on Canvas painted in 1989 from a dream during the time my mother was passing.
Oil on Canvas painted in 1989 from a dream during the time my mother was passing. | Source

The Scent of Lavendar

The scent of lavender overwhelmed me as I entered the room.
My mother was dying and I had been visiting her in an extended care facility for the past eight months.
Most of the time she would not know who I was. Often she would call me Chic, which was her sister’s name.
It was always difficult to visit and I would force myself discarding the many excuses I made to myself. The past four years had been wearing. Physically, emotionally and mentally I felt exhausted as if my blood had been drained from my body. I was a living corpse. Yet out of duty and or maybe love, I visited her faithfully.
On this day, she was sleeping and had been sleeping for two full days. I suppose it was a comatose state from which she would not wake.
She looked angelic as I approached the bedside. I sat with her for a moment and then placed my hand gently on her forehead.
As soon as I placed it there words began to flow from me.
Words of appreciation and forgiveness. Words, I was never able to express to her when she was awake. She had a way of cutting me off whenever I became sentimental.
Words of respect and wishing things had been different between us. Words that expressed my deepest heartache and longings; words of shame for the not finding a way to bridge the abyss that had grown between us. Words of resentment for her withholdings and mine for the fact that she was leaving me.

To My Dear Mother, Feliceta,
How many times I wished to bridge the gap between us
From the moment of my birth you rejected me.
I deeply pained, did not understand how you felt and why.
Yet, after all these years of caring for you, mothering you,
nurturing you, I can finally say, Yes, I do have a MOM who
cares for me, even though she was not able to express it to me.
My feelings of abandonment are now healed. I understand the panic you must have felt when I was born. I understand your feelings of inadequacy and dread that you could not meet up to the challenges of motherhood. I understand why I felt both tremendous love and intense anger for you.
I know now that I am loved and cherished dear mother, you were good enough. What more can a daughter ask. I know you did your best. And, I came out okay.
Now, you are my best friend and I miss you.

After the words stopped flowing I lifted the glass of water from the bedstead and sprinkled it on her forehead. I left the room in silence.
A week later I was informed that she had passed in her sleep.

Not long after that, I was sitting in my car at the DMV parking lot waiting for the office to open. I felt gentle warmth on my forehead and a waft of the lavender scent filled the car. My mother had heard my words and I knew all was forgiven.

About the Painting

This painting I call Northern Flight because it represents the transition of Spirit into the world beyond. In Native American cultures the north represents wisdom, transition and death. The owl appeared to me in a dream. He had golden eyes and a long white mustache. I saw my mother being swooped up by a rogue like figure. In many mythologies the roguish figure also represents death. Below are some people sitting in a prayer circle. This dream occurred two weeks prior to my mothers passing.

The dream spoke to me on many levels. it had of course represented the actual death. But also, I became familiar with the magnificence of the death experience and how small I felt in comparison to the vast mysteries that lie beyond my conscious awareness. And on a personal level how I was changed by the experience. The healing of my relationship with my mother was for me one of the highlights in my spiritual growth. So much was healed in those days of caring for her and being with her every step of the way. So many times I was angry for the burden. Others told me that "there is no greater gift than to give yourself for another". Those were words I did not like hearing at the time. Now, I have an appreciation for the wisdom. Even though I went through it kicking and screaming. I did commit myself to the task Others also told me that I was learning strength. I would reply "Who the hell wants it?" I'd rather learn to have fun.

On deeper inexplicable levels I have grown and learned. Having the opportunity to travel through the experience with her was an amazing learning. The many dreams and visions that came to me at that time opened my consciousness to higher realms of awareness. My whole perception was transformed.

This level of awareness is frightening to some who do not understand it. I shared the paintings as my Maters thesis at Sonoma State. My professor chair would not attend the showing. I asked him why he did not support my work. He said, " It scared him and reminded him of his experiences during the death of his father." Later he told me that he had been institutionalized then for depression. Wow, how surprised i was to hear that. Interesting that I did not experience depression, just lots of anger and rage about having no choice.

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