Friday, October 07, 2011

Memento mori

Last night, I went to an opening at the Irish Historical Society because my dear friends Inga and Andy from Northern Ireland were there. Inga had a piece in the show that was on the floor, partially under the grand piano (look at the first piece in "exhibitions" - that's the one). The theme was black, or darkness, and called dubh. Her fiber piece reminded me of ones I had seen when I was in Belfast and Bangor, but then I noticed these small charred-looking bones of porcelain. They TOTALLY made the piece. She carried a rusty box with her purse last night and I wondered all night why, until I asked her about the bones and she asked if I'd like one and she opened the box and they were full of them, with a little handmade paper tag tied around them: MEMENTO MORI.

These days, all days, it seems appropriate. In Cleveland, my host/surrogate mom said she was glad she didn't have to raise small children right now (her sons are in their mid to late 20s), and how sad it is to see that people don't really care about each other anymore. She has always been an active member of her street collective, a volunteer, works hospitality in a hospital, takes care of a woman with MS, and has started taking care of a stray cat that appeared when her beloved dog passed of cancer. She's a wonderfully compassionate human being, built to be a caretaker, though even she needs a break from time to time. But when my sister asked me what exactly that meant, about people not caring about each other, I said it was bigger than not helping your elderly neighbor take out the trash or giving to those in more need. It's the outrageous stuff that happens every day, like men thinking women need to "be prepared" for rape, men who are public servants. Though we've all given up on politicians, it's because they've forgotten the job they were actually supposed to do, to serve the public. I don't think people know what service looks like anymore, or feels like. Maybe we're all in denial of dying, or in morbid fear of it.

At least now I have this beautiful bone.

3 comments:

  1. oh, my, so beautiful. it seems americans by and large are selfish and afraid of death. me included. i'm trying to get over it. and being of service takes many guises, like papermakers and book artists? and friends?
    indeed!

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  2. oh my god, aimee, i just read the article. i'm beyond words.

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  3. i know. no wonder why people in every generation have those thoughts of despair, of what our species is coming to.

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