Monday, November 21, 2016

Guardian Angel showing at the Evansville Museum in Indiana

Guardian Angel of the Good Death
Judy Takács


If you’re lucky enough to see you parents into old age, you know its coming.
For me it began August 2012, with a cancer diagnosis for my mom.

Having just attended the funeral of our good friend who died from stomach cancer the week before, I knew how this story would end; with a little gray person gasping their last breath as they left this world.

I also knew there could be a lot of life crammed into the between-time. I just didn’t know how long that between-time would be.

And I knew she had to outlive my dad, who was 9 years her senior at 88 and very much counted on her to love and help him in his every waking moment.
My mom knew this too, but neither of us said it out loud.

Soon after August 2012, I came to the realization that not only would I have to make sure my parents lived well. I also had to make sure they died well.

I was not in denial about the inevitable, but, like Scarlet, just preferred to “think about it tomorrow”. Besides, we were very busy with many doctors visits, surgeries, hospital stays, picture taking and memory making in the between-time.

“Tomorrow,” however, came in December 2015 and then again in June 2016, when my parents passed away within 6 months of each other; my dad first…the natural order of things.


The sequence of events, twists, turns, plans, unknowns, changes, red alerts, whens, hows and ultimate absolute clarity of what was to be…was dizzying and remarkable. The Serenity Prayer was my mantra for a time.

I was fortunate, honored and determined to be present for each parent, before, during and after their bodies shut down.

In fighting…and then not fighting the inevitable…

In embracing comfort, but shunning heroics…

In vigilantly preparing for and guarding the sanctity of a peaceful ending, I felt every bit the Guardian Angel of the Good Death as each passed from this world with my sister and I “in loving attendance” as the obituaries for my mom and dad both read.

It was absolute closure, the feeling of a pulse and then not feeling it, the belabored breathing with the steady metronome click… and then its absence. 


And then, the eggshell time immediately afterwards when ostensibly nothing has changed…except for everything.


And since it was impossible for me to write these words just a few short months ago, I painted it.

The painting was originally called Guardian of the Passage…attempting to politely skirt using the word “death.” But, just recently, I called it what it was and renamed it, Guardian Angel of the Good Death and entered her into the 58th Annual Mid-States Competition. 

And, now I’m happy to announce that she was accepted and awarded a Merit Prize and will hang at the Evansville Museum of Art, Science and History in Evansville, Indiana from December 11th through March 5th 2017.

Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science
411 SE Riverside Drive
Evansville, IN
812.425.2406
evansvillemuseum.org



I waited to post this until just before Thanksgiving because this will be our first without my parents…in fact my dad was rushed to the hospital two days before Thanksgiving 2015, and passed away a week after.  If you’re lucky enough to be sharing your holiday with one or both of your parents, give them an extra hug, a dose of patience and try to find common ground with some of the arguments that may come up at the dinner table…that’s really what we should all be doing as a country, and the very best place to begin is right at home.  Love to you all!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Serenity Prayer

Serenity Prayer: Acceptance
Judy Takács


“Do everything slowly.”

That was my mantra for the excruciatingly long month of December 2015. The month of healthcare hell that included three hospital stays…two for my mom, (who, thankfully did well for another six months), and one for my dad, who, at 91 passed away peacefully.

“Do everything slowly.”

I thought of this mantra myself. It is decidedly different from “slow down!”  To me, “slow down” de-values and tries to correct what you’re doing. It’s an annoying platitude, chanted by the cloyingly unflappable, for whom everything always seems to work out.

No, “Do everything slowly” is a positive action, a procedure with instructions, an artful dance with grace, observation, thought and dutiful acceptance of a job to be done, at its very core.

“Do everything slowly” allowed me to control my process of letting go of control… it was a Serenity Prayer of sorts.

We all know “The Serenity Prayer”…even if you didn’t hear it at an AA meeting. I was reminded of it again, when we chose this verse for the prayer cards at my dad’s funeral. It seemed fitting to his calm demeanor in life, and to our surprise at the elegance and timing of the events leading to his death.


“God, grant me the serenity to 
accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference”



My excruciatingly long month of healthcare hell and the logistical ping-pong of how it all played out with two parents in the hospital…and then one in the grave…showed me the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change” part in graphic detail. The conflagration of healthcare hell was one of the things I could not change.

I did, however, control what I could and took to the canvas whenever a break in the daily healthcare/funeral/administrative business presented itself.

The beekeeper paintings had been working themselves around in my head for months now…and it was time to put brush to canvas. My talented muse, jewelry artist, Kim Mettee obliged and wore the beekeeper protective netting and I was presented with the challenge of creating a painting where I couldn’t rely on a face to pull it together. Instead I had to focus my attention on the hands, the pose and the specifics of the mesh netting.

I added the bees, and the concept of controlling what I could amid a conflagration of painful confusion…came together profoundly. So profoundly, that I worked on two paintings based on this subject simultaneously.

The second painting, Serenity Prayer is below, and was selected by curator Alia El-Bermani to be included in Sight Unseen, a  Poets/Artists Magazine exhibit at the Abend Gallery in Denver, Colorado. Happy to say she found her forever home with a loving collector.

The show is over, but you can still purchase the beautiful catalog!



Serenity Prayer, Judy Takács