May is motherhood memoir month

It’s Only a Paper Moon

but I am tethered by it…

I was deep into making the 8’ x 7’ moon when Scott, our middle son, asked me how I felt about our family gathering together for the first time in 5, 10, no, over 15 years…? How would it feel to all be in the same room?

Trapped was my first thought. I pictured the event site, The Ruins in Hood River, and thought how aptly it was named. And then I remembered there is no roof, only open space above, the roof burned through, some of the walls hacked down, and maybe for the first time, I appreciated this place our daughter insisted would be perfect for her wedding.

“You could get married in France, in real ruins for less,” I said… But she wanted this.

Her great-grandmother, my mother’s mother, Lilian Mathilda Stahl, was once photographed on a paper moon. It was in the 1920s at the World’s Fair in Chicago if I got the story straight. I’ve always loved the photo. As a young girl I collaged it onto a box that held special mementos.

Earlier this year when I was in Los Angeles at Luna Luna: the Forgotten Fantasy I saw a poster with the history of the paper moons. Since Lily is named after her great grandmother I decided to make a paper moon backdrop for photos at her wedding.

paper moon history with Grandma Lillian

John figured out the dimensions and we drew the crescent shape on plywood, then I added the face. He cut it out and when several of the kids and friends were over on Easter they helped paper maché the moon.

Lily and Sarah paper maché the moon

Craters were crafted from glued string into the surface with tissue paper overlays, then layers of silver and white glaze… all while Scott, the journalist, asked questions as if we are all part of This American Life.

As I answered his questions I thought about how this art installation (along with the driftwood and metal arch we created) was helping me face the day our daughter would marry- a joyous event- but also fraught with uncertainty.

We hadn’t seen three of our grandsons in over five years. They live with our oldest daughter and her husband 45 minutes from us. The story of why we haven’t seen them is difficult to follow, even for me, so I’ll spare you the details, but two of our grandsons, twins, age 11 would be ring bearers.

twin boys, ring bearers, blue suits

We would also be seeing our oldest grandchild who our daughter was pregnant with when I was pregnant with our youngest child. He’s 16 now. We haven’t seen him since he was 11.

Creating art might be how I deal with stress and uncertainty. As I worked on this big moon I felt it was one thing within my control, my contribution of nostalgic beauty and historic meaning in a world that often feels as if it is wobbling out of control. Art, springing from and inspired by my relationship with my creator, grounds me.

Lori and her three grandsons/Kelli's boys

What was it like to see my grandsons again? …Over the moon with love from both sides.

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