A Life Lived Fully

9 Nov

Ink drawing: my dear aunt.


I’ve been sitting with my dear aunt in her nursing home and spending the time drawing her. She mostly doesn’t recognise anyone and stares into space or dozes quietly, but now and again she’ll look directly at me, smile and give me a broad wink before slipping back into quiet isolation. It’s a hard decision to blog this drawing because I worried that it might be intrusive and maybe voyeuristic, but I aso feel strongly that we shouldn’t hide our elders away. They’ve given us everything and this generation, my aunt is in her ’80’s, fought a World War for us and then built a new society with free education, healthcare, the redbrick universities, good housing …. they didn’t want us to suffer the awful poverty they endured during their own youth and they wanted their children and grandchildren to have the opportunities they never had. And they succeeded. Big time!

We’re a society unhealthily obsessed with youth and celebrity. Well in my opinion, young skin is rather bland and uninteresting, whereas our elders glow with the beauty of a lifetime of living etched into their faces and bodies. I remember my aunt as a strong, gutsy woman who lived every day like it was her last. She inspired me and loved me. She jived to The Andrew’s Sisters at my wedding when she was well into her 70’s and boy, could she jive! And now she’s tiny and frail and quietly living through her last few days, she is still lovely and I won’t pander to our unfortunate cultural stereotypes which dictate that we only see young plasticised people and that pictures of older people must have the wrinkles Photoshopped off them! Here she is at the end of a life lived fully and she is beautiful.



19 Responses to “A Life Lived Fully”

  1. Hellopalz November 10, 2011 at 17:11 #

    Very touching… The drawing is good, I liked it!

  2. Hansi November 10, 2011 at 15:24 #

    Nice drawing….One thing nice about drawing older persons is they don’t move very much. Did you do a pencil sketch first, or just let it rip with the ink?

    • Rosie Scribblah November 10, 2011 at 19:11 #

      I almost always get stuck in with the ink straight away – the line is more spontaneous and I like danger lol

  3. The Blithering Idiot November 10, 2011 at 13:44 #

    Very nice drawing…and commentary. Thanks for stopping by my drawing blog.

  4. Doodlemum November 10, 2011 at 12:03 #

    Lovely words, so touching.
    It is a surreal experience seeing someone slip away. I found it very hard to deal with as it is something you have no contro over and you are only the observer.
    I always think of Dylan Thomas as I too would fight, but there is quiet dignity and reverence in gracefully bowing out of this world. This picture captures just that. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Rosie Scribblah November 10, 2011 at 12:16 #

      It’s something that we’re all going to have to face. I think I’d like to die chasing tornadoes. I hope I get the chance when the time comes.

  5. chrisbambrough November 10, 2011 at 09:34 #

    An important drawing this one, I think Rosie.Yup, there`s something about a drawing done that brings back the moment, & this time with your Aunt is now preciously preserved.God bless her. I did one or two of my Gran when she was very old; and you`re right, it feels like such a sensitive & personal thing to do. I draw every day, but you make me want to draw more (where`s me pad?).

    • Rosie Scribblah November 10, 2011 at 11:34 #

      Thank you Chris. You’re right; drawing something personal sort of keeps it for ever. Once you start drawing every day you just want to do it more and more – it’s addictive!!! lol 🙂

  6. Russell. November 10, 2011 at 07:05 #

    Brilliant drawing Rosie! Hard working hands.

  7. jhv57 November 10, 2011 at 01:05 #

    What a beautiful tribute.

  8. invincible pioneer November 9, 2011 at 22:00 #

    Very touching. I posted a drawing a friend did of her Dad near the end, and I have done the same kind of meditative rendering. It is a profound kind of remembering,

    You will always remember the time you spent doing this activity: It makes one fully present in the moment.

    • Rosie Scribblah November 9, 2011 at 22:04 #

      Thank you. That’s an interesting point, about the clarity of remembering. That’s why I draw when I travel instead of taking photos. When I look at my drawings, I become immersed in the memory in a way that I don’t with photos.

  9. umanbn November 9, 2011 at 21:34 #

    I have one drawing of my Granny somewhere in my old sketch books…but I wish I’d taken more time to draw her more while she was alive…..nice post…

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