Friday, September 11, 2009

Thank You Alice

I immediately write a letter to thank Alice for all that I have gained as her guest.

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 " will never leave the farm...and wherever you walk, I'll be with strength is vast and comes from 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.


  1. Profound that such a short passage can span so many years and with such great emotion.

  2. Your story is so amazing, and your writing is so true- it brings those long-ago moments alive. Thank you for sharing both.

  3. Thanks Missy and Sharmon
    I **so appreciate** your visits and your kind comments.

    Gotta' love the creative process... she's always full of surprises isn't she? I had no idea in June that this 2 chapter memoir would rise up out of the ethers to be shared in a blog format.
    thanks from the bottom of my heart for being a companion on this journey.

  4. Ahhh, the wisdom and love of an older woman, providing friendship, kindness and comfort. There is nothing like it.

    Your story, and the time you shared with Alice is a gift, teaching other women how they can relate. How they can help each other recover.

    Beautiful writing, beautiful story.

  5. talk about connection--many levels
    again, what you've written is so powerful, thought provoking and moving. i love how you value "all of life" and how you vowed to treasure and share Alice's legacy--which you have (thank you :)) you were a guide for me this spring.
    ps. i have pulled my clarissa pinkola estes book off the shelf for some re-reading.

  6. Svasti you convey the secret of helping one another in the healing process...join hands and reflect our continuous ability to relate with one another no matter what we must carry.

    mentoring is an extraordinary art.

    Indigo Girl yes yes visit with Clarissa she has so much wisdom to help us remember who we are and why we came here.
    thank you for letting me share the journey as you traveled so beautifully last spring.


Thanks for stopping '-)