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Pink Balloons

Wednesday, March 13 was the birthday of my grandmother, Louise Mayhew Russell Swanson. We called her MomMom. I like to celebrate her by telling about the day she died, early in the morning on my daughter Jessie’s 7th birthday. We were there, and after several hours of phone calls and business, after the doctor and the undertaker had left, I looked at Jessie and thought, this little girl needs a celebration.

So I drove to town to buy a cake, then went to the party store and bought 7 pink balloons and one purple to grow on. I headed out the door. The spiky chandelier in the entryway caught a balloon and POP! 

I went back, they replaced it for free and I headed out again, this time holding my bouquet very low. On the street, I passed a woman with a lit cigarette and POP!  

I went back to the store and this time I paid for the replacement. I headed out again, holding the balloons in a tight cluster. As they rubbed against each other, they heated up, the air and helium inside expanded just like we learned in fourth-grade science class and POP! 

I went back. They were not happy to see me. I asked the helium person not to fill them quite so full and she looked at me like I was speaking a strange language. I finally got the balloons to the car and put them in the back seat.

 They rose up and completely filled the back window, blocking my view. I backed out of the angle parking space VERY cautiously and ever so gently tapped an on-coming car. A crabby old man got out to inspect his fender and then drove off ignoring my profuse apologies. I wanted to say to him, “Sir, if you only know the day I’m having...” I guess you can’t expect kindness from someone you’ve just dinged.

I drove home carefully and we had a party in the midst of planning a funeral.

 MomMom loved the Bible and Jesus, and she held an unshakable faith in the resurrection. In her circle Death was referred to as “Going Home.” Sojourner Truth said at the end of her life; “I’m not dying--I’m going home like a shooting star!”

I like to think MomMom went home like a burst of pink balloons.

Here she is, the quintessential church lady, all dressed up and carrying a cake.

Two weeks ago I wrote about my aunt, Mary Jane. She died Sunday evening, surrounded by her children, Kate, John and Amy. In her last days she had many visitors; grandchildren, nephews, great-grands. In one visit she suddenly said, "Who planned this party? I'm having a lovely time." That was Mary Jane, with a great gift for appreciating the nice things that came her way. She was thoughtful in her generosity; when we had a new baby and no washing machine she'd invite us to dinner and say, "Bring your laundry!" She'd help me fold the towels and the little baby clothes and I learned the pleasure of sharing a chore with a friend.

That's just what I did yesterday! We hung new show! Hanging 30 pieces of art may sound like a huge chore but we had fun as you can see here.

This show, from the curatorial program of the New York Artists Circle, is curated by Darcy Spitz, Aveni Patel and Sandra Taggert, is titled

Imaginarium: Universe of the Mind

The work in this exhibit embodies a diverse interpretation of making the “unseen” visible.  As Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution”

but first we had to get it up on the wall.

Arranging which goes where is one big decision after the other and everyone has an idea.

Our designated ladder climber is Michelle Girardello.

Getting the pictures hung is only half the job--now we have to make them straight.

then step back and take a moment to enjoy.

There will be an opening reception on Sunday, March 17

at the church, 12 West 12th Street

from noon til 4 with an artists talk at 2:15.

I'm also in a show at El Barrio's Artspace 215 East 99th Street. That's titled Women Celebrate Women, curated by Yvonne Lamar Rogers and Rolinda Ramos. Here's what I'm showing there.

Saint Barbara Dancing

The photo in this one is by Gary Hershhorn.

Saint Barbara in New York City

And lastly, on my drawing table today--see any progress?

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17. maalisk.

I love the photo of MomMom and the balloon story, but I am sorry to hear about Mary Jane. She and Jack were full of energy and fun and I enjoyed it when they and Kate (with whom I played countless games of croquet and Rook) and John were at Sag. You are blessed with many legacy-leavers in your family line and the love among you all runs deep! ❤️ Laurie.

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