I have three prints on my studio wall. I bought them in the tiny English fishing village of Mevagissey, Cornwall, several years ago while visiting family.
Something intangible drew me to the women in the prints; I studied their faces and the unspoken details of their body language. Each had a silent strength about them, a look of quiet courage deep in their eyes.
They represented three generations of a native Indian family, each understanding and embracing their individual and collective responsibilities within the tribe. They were women who could climb over or around any obstacle; who would do whatever it took to keep those close to them safe and warm and loved.
Each of the women became instantly symbolic of the three generations of women in my family. Myself and my sister; my mother, and grandmother. I’ve seen the prints that way for almost a decade, periodically drawing strength from the still courage and hushed knowing in each of the women’s faces.
But life goes on and the eldest of our generation died just weeks before my eldest niece-and-God-child, and her twinkle-eyed Irish partner, began their own family.
I knew that in the measures of time, things had shifted. I knew that we’d lost a generation, gained a new one. I knew that in theory I was no longer represented by the youngest member of the three strong Native Indian women hanging on my wall—and that I had a new role to fulfill in life’s cycles. Still, I was reluctant to move up, to be represented by the older, middle generation.
But when I flew to England and held my great-niece for the first time, what I already understood on an intellectual level, shifted on a more spiritual level.