I often share that what I’ve learned about strength, perseverance, and responsibility, I learned from my grandmother and namesake, Gina. In November we celebrated her life and said goodbye to the pioneering woman who overcame the greatest of obstacles to lead a life of dissent.
Gina Sr. was born in Camaiore, Italy in 1926. She lived through WWII, was captured and escaped from Nazi soldiers three times, and walked 200 miles to find safety. Following the war she found herself on a boat filled with war brides headed to the U.S. and never saw her family again. She divorced in the early 60’s becoming a single mother and social pariah, and survived the loss of three of her children. Continue reading “Dissent by Gina Messina”
I have always loved to hear these kinds of stories from Carol and other friends, since I lost my own grandmothers before I felt I really knew them. My mother’s mother passed away when I was a young child. My father’s mother lived until I was in my twenties, but Alzheimer’s stripped her of her ability to recognise her family many years before her physical death. How I wish I had known them as an adult and had been able to talk to them, even once, woman to woman. And how I wish I had received the advice, support and unconditional love which Carol describes, and which I have seen other grandmothers offer their grandchildren. This absence has left an aching heart, a raw wound, for my entire adult life.
In 2014 I wrote about the passing of my dear Pop and the painting that burst forth when I was told very clearly that Pachamama had come to accompany him on his return. It is with a very heavy heart that I now write with news of the recent passing of my dear Nanna. The anchors of our family now both gone. When I was told of her passing, I envisioned her being carried by angels; at peace and free of pain.
The last time I saw her she told me the spirits had been visiting. “I’m not scared,” she declared. This was not surprising for Nan always had a close relationship with spirit. I remember her telling me of a ghostly experience she had many years ago. It was very late one night and someone had come knocking at the door. Out of bed she got and answered it only to be greeted by her brother who had died many years before. He asked her to come with him and she told him it wasn’t time yet. Nan swore it wasn’t a dream. It had really happened. This is just one of many otherworldly encounters she told me about over the years.
Much of my childhood and early adulthood was spent at Nanna’s house so there are plenty of fond and funny memories of her. Her obsession with ghost and horror stories stands out as one of them. When we were children, she would get my sister and me to stay up late with her and watch all kinds of mystery murder shows. I remember watching The Hounds of Baskerville with her and being scared witless. The bonus however was getting to cuddle up in bed with her for the night.
Reading was one of her greatest passions, and she read everything from Shakespeare to Stephen King. I believe it was Nanna who inspired my love of history and over the years we swapped and shared numerous historical books. Her knowledge of Old Britain was astounding, and I remember many a discussion over the fate of Mary Queen of Scots – Nanna was always a bit anti-English, and we often wondered how history may have unfolded if Mary hadn’t been de-throned and exiled. In fact the last book she sent for me to read was another about her.
Stargazing was another one of her loves and is something she will be dearly remembered for. Many evenings were spent out on the deck looking to the night sky. Nan knew where all the constellations and zodiac signs were and she rarely missed an astronomical event. Whenever I have looked to the stars I have thought of Nanna, but now when I look to them, she is one of them. Shining down on us brighter than ever.
I dedicated my latest painting to Nanna. For me, painting is how I can process my thoughts and feelings and is also a way to find clarity and understanding on matters such as the nature of life and death. From the moment I made the first marks on the canvas I kept hearing “your ancestors are behind you.” I knew I was being guided by them and tried my hardest to connect in with Nanna’s spirit to see and feel who guided her home. Nanna had strong ancestral ties so it was only fitting to feel them so strongly here. The two younger women standing in front are the gatekeepers, standing at the threshold to the other side. The woman in the centre came with the message that Nanna is at peace – she is peace. She is pictured smelling the roses that were one of Nanna’s favourite flowers to grow. The firebird symbolizes transformation and the flight of her spirit that is seen to the left leaving, heading back to the cosmos from whence she came.
Death is surreal and it still hasn’t quite sunk in that I will never see her again. Nanna was a strong and caring woman who loved her family deeply. Her legacy is one of love, and while the circle feels broken in the sense that she is no longer physically here, it remains unbroken for her spirit lives on forever in our hearts.
I am the daughter of Ramona Cherise Lane, the granddaughter of Ailsa Aileen Rollings and the great granddaughter of Ruth Harrison. I come from a long line of beautiful, strong and capable women stretching back to the dawn of humankind. I honor them and give thanks for all that they have taught and shown me.
Nanna taught me about my ancestors.
She taught me about the importance of storytelling.
She taught me about mystery and history.
She taught me to love books.
She showed me how to crochet and knit.
She showed me how to play cards.
She showed me spirit.
In life and death Nanna has taught me of unconditional love and acceptance.
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal”
Jassy Watson, who lives on the sub-tropical coast of Queensland Australia, is a Mother of four, passionate organic gardener, Intuitive/Visionary & Community Artist, Teacher, Intentional Creativity Coach and a student of Ancient History and Religion at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is the Creatress of Goddesses Garden, Studio & Gallery; a school for the Sacred Creative Arts. Jassy teaches regular painting workshops in person, nationally and internationally, and online based around themes that explore myth, history, earth connection and the Goddess. Regular creative events and presentations are also held that have included visits from international scholars, artists and musicians. Visit http://www.goddessesgardenandstudio.com to read more about her and the work she creates.
Poetry is a gift from our ever-creating goddess, but you know what? She also has a major sense of humor. Nearly every night, I go to bed, pet the cats awhile, and think I’m going to go right to sleep. And what happens? Words happen. Beginnings of blogs. (This one. Last night.) Lines of dialogue or description that will end up in my revisionist fairy tales. First lines of poems. Most nights, I “talk” myself to sleep.
Because the Goddess is endlessly, continuously creative and her art is our blessed planet, so are all her children creative, and so am I also creative and kinda artsy, too. I learned to embroider when I was about seven years old. I learned to sew, I learned to knit, I learned to crochet. For years I crocheted granny-square afghans, but I ran out of people to give them to about ten years ago. As a child, I sat on my father’s workbench and learned to work a little with wood. I started taking piano lessons the day after my sixth birthday. Although my mother and my brother were artists, I missed out on that talent, but made up for it by taking a right-brain drawing class and doing a magnificent contour drawing of a brussels sprout. I don’t remember when I couldn’t read, and I’m told that I started writing fiction when I saw seven years old and wrote a story for my daddy. Along the way, of course, I’ve also learned a lot of very practical creative skills, of course, like touch typing. Continue reading “Where Does Poetry Come From? By Barbara Ardinger”