First Nancy draws:

4 4 14Aug2012 45

Then I stitch:


Mary asked if Nancy speaks when she draws, and no, she doesn’t. Interesting thing about Nancy and talking . . . at times in the past, she’s been criticized for talking too much. At times it was like she was on a short loop, repeating the same things over and over and over again. I think it was a sign she was excited about something, but who knows. Now she’s quieter, more reserved, and some voice concern over that, saying it points to early onset alzheimer’s. I have my own thoughts about that, but I’ll keep those to myself. And as I reminded my husband last week, their dad was extremely quiet. I notice that Andy acquires more of his dad’s mannerisms with age, perhaps Nancy does, too. Seems reasonable to me.

And she does talk – she’s not completely mute. Last week when she got into the convertible, for example, she looked at me and softly asked if we were going to see Penny. (Penny is a former caregiver whom Nancy adores and vice versa.) When Angela and I were down there in June, I arranged a surprise lunch for Nancy with Penny. Perhaps Nancy remembered and made that association. Who knows? Who cares where her her question came from? And she said several other things to me that afternoon. She assured me that she likes riding in a convertible, for example, and when I asked, she said yes, she wanted to draw. In other words, she talked to me about things she’s interested in enough to spill a few words.

When she draws, Nancy simply draws and smiles. Her smile is consistent, never wavering. As you can see in this video, she has her tongue to one side of her mouth like any young child intent on what they are doing. For decades, Nancy has chewed on her tongue. There’s frequently a lot of buzz and fuss about that, but she doesn’t bite hard enough to cause injury to herself, and want to know a secret? For as long as I can remember, I have occasionally lightly chewed on my tongue just because it feels good, kinda’ stimulating. Wakes me up. Tunes me into the present. Me? I think it quite possible that Nancy lightly chews her tongue for the sensation just like I think that’s why she enjoys riding in a convertible as much as she obviously does: engagement of all the senses. The wind blowing against her skin and through her hair, the road of the wind, the smell, the sounds of things outside and nearby. Maybe riding in a convertible makes her feel totally alive.

It’s all theory, of course, but three things I am absolutely sure of: 1) Nancy loves drawing. 2) Her drawings are art. 3) Her drawings are her own language, her own voice. Through her drawings, Nancy speaks.

(Note: You might want to mute this before viewing. As I said, Nancy doesn’t make any sound while drawing, but there is conversation happening all around her that’s really not all that interesting.)


She is my developmentally disabled sister-in-law, Nancy,
and I am Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her.
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