Owls, traditionally associated with Athena, symbolize both wisdom and death. My sister loved them. It made buying her little mementos from my travels easy because somehow owls are everywhere — on mugs, placemats, statues, and puzzles. Picking up these trinkets was one of the few things I did to accommodate her neediness that I didn’t mind.
Now those owls live here. They’re all over the place.
Last week a scrap of paper sandwiched between two sheets of contact paper appeared on the hall rug upstairs. The Virgin and Child. Huh?
At first I thought it was of the many prayer cards that I brought home from Assisi. They have a way of turning up at odd times and in odd places too.
But no. The back revealed a newspaper article which told me this was made by my sister. Cutting pictures out of magazines and newspapers was her only real creative practice in the end. I remember thinking it weird, as in deficient, that she never DID anything with her cut outs. Lately, however, I’ve begun to see the scouting and collecting as a kind of art form in itself.
I know I’ve shared other times my sister’s made “visitations” — the shattered blue Pyrex dish, her large painting falling like a guillotine. How narrow the evasion of harm! With the appearance of Mary and the Christ Child, can I assume we’ve entered a new, softer phase, perhaps one rife with atonement?
But whose, you ask — whose atonement?
Being in Salem this weekend allowed me to notice a change. How memory is fading. The relief of that. There was a time not too long ago when just driving by her exit, never mind sitting down and having lunch at the end of her street, would have tightened my chest and filled me with dread. I’d feel hints of the weary exhaustion that went hand in hand with our visits. Every visit.
That seems to be muted now.