Woman Waiting

Sketch: Woman Waiting – Watercolor, ink, collage – 8 x 10 inches.

Pay attention, she’ll move soon. I fumble for the mechanical pencil, open the sketchbook, catch the shape of her back and head. Wait! She moves. No, no, the lead’s jammed in the barrel, no time to fix it, use the pen.

“Welcome to Delta Airlines Flight 4057 to Seattle. We will begin boarding soon.”

She sits almost straight up. Pay attention to the slump of her head. Polka-dotted pants? No time, remember colors, fill them in later. What’s her story? Is Jayne still alive? The hospice workers should be with her today.

“Flight 4057 to Seattle pre-boarding now. Passengers needing assistance, and
active duty US Military personnel welcome to board.”

She’s flying to Seattle. Grandchildren? Something prim about her, pretty hair, but pink socks? Seattle’s just a stop on my way to Whidbey Island. Stop thinking, pay attention, draw!

“Boarding now for 1st class passengers.”

Her body looks OK, but the angle of her head doesn’t. Start another sketch, skip the details, draw faster, not much time, the slump looks better, but I’ve lost her face. She stands up, pockets her book and disappears into a line of passengers.

“Main cabin passengers now boarding.”

I close my book, put the pen away and join the queue.

Hours later on the Island, the hospice workers have gone back to their own homes. Jayne slumps in bed. Her husband Tim, my brother, props her up on pillows. I can’t bear to draw her. We hold hands. She talks in a whisper, but soon she falls asleep.

Tim and I and her other caregivers, Ruth and Jake, their children, share a bottle of Spanish wine. I paste the label and the bee in the sketchbook two days later, after I’ve flown back to California, after saying goodbye to Jayne for the last time.

2 thoughts to “Woman Waiting”

  1. The hurried Sketch of the mysterious, old woman set a counterpoint for me to the Story of the sweet, sad last times with your sister.
    As always your art is multi-layered; it stirs my thoughts and moves my heart.
    Thank you for the beautiful stimuli.

  2. I very much appreciate the parallels between the woman waiting and Jayne. They both prepare for journeys. The artist rushes and stumbles to catch the elderly passenger. Later, he will lose his desire/ability/willingness to capture Jayne in a drawing. “Not much time,” a subtle and quickly passing key to both encounters.

    Maybe I shouldn’t comment on this post. Maybe it’s already obvious to anyone who sees/reads it. But it feels good to appreciate your perceptions and the acuity of your being able to capture fleeting moments.

    The coda reminds me of the final scene in “Mediterráneo,” where various characters sit around a table peeling eggplants. It’s a simple sharing, like having a glass of wine together. Life goes on. The discrete pleasure of communion is brief but recalls so many previous occasions when we drank wine around a table, tapas scattered, and Jayne’s bread.

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