The other evening as I sat down with a new pen to fill my first page of a fresh journal, I remembered my first memories of creativity. In the late afternoon, just before Dad would come home from work, Mom would sit down on a tall stool in the kitchen. The stool was covered with contact paper that got changed out every year or so. And with the avocado green phone tucked between shoulder and ear, she would chat with one of her sisters or her friend Lynda.
Mom’s hands kept busy with lines, circles, stars, and curves. One hand held the page, while the other danced around on top of it, leaving an inked path showing its journey. The steady hand occasionally held a cigarette. I remember sitting at the bar in front of her, watching as she sat still. I watched, hypnotized by her ability to make so much happen while barely moving. Lower body posed and quiet, contrasted the busy-ness of her upper body. Mouth and mind engaged in conversation, while the two hands were like co-workers with separate tasks that sporadically depended on one another. The writing hand needed a partner to hold and move the page. The smoking hand needed the other to help with the lighter.
My little mind was fascinated by the show each hand put on. The drawing hand moved along the page, exposing lines that grew like an abundant garden out of my mother’s imagination. The smoking hand sat almost motionless while lines of smoke cascaded from it in a ballet of white seamless ribbons making their own doodle show in the air.
This was her daily ritual. And my introduction to drawing. It wasn’t until college that I took up doodling for myself. She had passed away by then, and drawing became a way to get to know her, to step into her world. It also, to my surprise and delight, became a way of getting to know myself.
Doodling has been a constant companion for years. Some may call what I do drawing, and I suppose that would be accurate. But I like to call it what she called it. In that way it becomes something that will link me to her forever. I think she would like my doodle drawings, maybe even be as fascinated with them as I was with hers. Each of my drawings is a celebration of her and an acknowledgment of her never-diminished influence on me, of being a creative woman, just like Mom.