A week later the mailman delivers a large manilla envelope to my parent's home. There I find five pages of her poems, four sheets of her small abstract watercolor paintings, and the most enraptured letter that I will ever receive in my entire life. It marks the first of twenty-six years of delightful ongoing correspondence and visits.
This first hand written letter reads so beautifully and is so deeply inspirational that it feeds my soul for all of my days. In part Alice states "...you will never leave the farm...and wherever you walk, I'll be with you...my strength is vast and comes from Beyond...so take from me what you will...I know that you will use it wisely...please let me know where your special star leads."
That letter is dated August 21, 1968.
Years later Alice and Larry sell their Ohio farm and settle on the banks of the Rio Chama in Abiqui, New Mexico, just minutes away from the home and studio of Georgia O'Keeffe.
Larry builds Alice a simple artist home that hugs the earth. He continues his woodworking and Alice her painting. On my last visit I camp on the bank of the river. Alice comes to sit at my campfire. The flames leap turbulently into the brilliant star lit sky on this crisp October night. We sit quietly staring into the thick bed of hot coals. After a time she shares her deepest story. Twenty three years earlier, in March of 1968, her eighteen year old daughter died in a car crash. Six months later I arrive frail from my own trauma. We instantly bond as surrogates unaware of the other's recent injury. It is enough to hold her story. I don't ever tell her mine.
"What is La Loba? ...she is the female soul. Yet she is more: she is the source of the feminine. She is all that is of instinct. Of the worlds both seen and hidden she is the basis. We each receive from her a glowing cell which contains all the instincts and knowings needed in our lives." Clarissa Pinkola Estes
On January 30, 1994 a large manilla envelope arrives. It echoes the first from the summer of 1968...a handwritten letter, four watercolor paintings. In part she states "Feels like much is happening planet wise. No doubt it is. Would like to block it, sometimes I can, sometimes no. We have no TV, no radio, no newspapers, no magazines. Quiet here. Serene. It's good. we send much love.
The letter is dated January 27, 1994.
As I finish reading her words the phone rings. A friend is calling from New Mexico to tell me that on the evening of January 28, on an unlit back road, Alice was killed instantly when Larry's truck hits a rock and overturns.
Later that day I write into my journal...Thank you Alice for your natural beauty of spirit and your love of the artist life. You gently and joyfully passed these gifts to my heart when I was a very young woman. I have nurtured, nourished and shared the legacy you passed to me. I pledge to continue to do so all the rest of my days.
This artist memoir is dedicated to Alice Boucher Twitchell November 4, 1917 - January 28, 1994
'She who we love and lose is no longer where she was before. She is now wherever we are.'
This closes two chapters of an artist's memoir. A brief look back in the 60th year.