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ON TURNING 100 YEARS OLD

October 23, 2019 9 Comments

ON TURNING 100 YEARS OLD

It isn’t every day that you have the chance to celebrate a parent’s hundredth birthday but that is what just happened: my mother turned one hundred on October 21. We realize how lucky we are to have this amount of time with her—it is a blessing.

Our dad passed away just after his seventy-fourth birthday and that was way too young, but again it was a blessing to have him with us for the length of time we had. Many people are not so lucky.

The anticipation of this celebration was exciting for all of us but especially for my mother. Everyone in her community was talking about her birthday and asking if she was really turning one hundred. Or, if they didn’t mention it, she would announce, “Did you know that I’m turning one hundred?”

My mother has always loved a party and this hasn’t changed. As the day of her party approached, she grew more and more excited. I’d celebrated my birthday the previous month and after wishing me a wonderful day and giving me a big kiss, she immediately asked, “When is mine?”

Anticipation filled the air. So we started celebrating the day before the centennial. With most of her family gathered, she held court at the end of the dinner table and, addressing all of us, proclaimed how happy she was that we were all together.

When the cake arrived and the champagne was poured, she announced that she wanted us to acknowledge the grandmothers. Her desire, it seemed, was that we pay homage to our history, the women that made us who we are. When she was done speaking, she asked us to applaud them. It was such a strong and loving gesture, but asking us to applaud was so unlike her. I don’t believe I’ve heard her ask for that kind of response from us—ever.

How much of her presence is with us and how much is moving toward her next life? I don’t know, but I am willing to listen to what she is saying, hearing without judgment, pausing to learn from her words, remembering that she has been our teacher all these years.

              

Monique Olmer's collages 

Prior to our celebration, on entering the elevator lobby of my mother’s building, I had seen a collage hanging on the wall. Was this my mother’s work? On closer examination, I realized that it was different from her style, but very similar. Collages were my mother’s passion. Over the years she created a method of using magazine pages to create astounding pieces.

Confused, I continued on to her room where I asked if she knew anything about the piece that was hanging in the elevator lobby.

“Oh yes,” she responded, “that’s my pupil.” I understood that the roles had reversed. The art therapist, Emily, had started spending time with my mother. And instead of her teaching my mother about art it seemed that my mother was teaching her

                      

Monique Olmer's collages 

On Monday the day of her hundredth birthday, there was a beautiful note underneath the collage.

Artist: Monique Olmer
Collage (2019)
Art Assistant: Emily Scranton, art therapy intern
This artwork was created in honor of Ms. Olmer’s 100th birthday.
 
Ms. Olmer taught me her signature collage technique (a well-guarded secret) for this collaboration.
I cannot speak for Ms. Olmer but, to me, this work is a testament to the bond of an artistic relationship. I am grateful to have been allowed access to her private world of art and design.
As an art therapist, I aim to encourage self-expression in others. And yet, it is often Ms. Olmer who assumes the role of counselor in our relationship. She tells me:
Be bold—make something new. Then, make another. Do it many times. If someone doesn’t like it—well, now you know that you have something different. Then, make another.
Thank you, Ms. Olmer, for a vision that never fades.

 Emily Scranton's inspiration 

Merci!

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9 Responses

Julie L De Courtivron
Julie L De Courtivron

October 31, 2019

Happy 100 Birthday Monique!

I have the loveliest memories of coming into your shop and conversing about decorating and table settings. I have many beautiful items from Antons going all the way back to when I moved to Stamford in 2000. What a lovely and kind woman you are and I miss you (and the store) very much but I am happy to know, you are wrapped in love, on this special day!

I hope you have a lovely day with your family and friends.

Big Wishes and kisses!

Jenny
Jenny

October 30, 2019

She is magnificent and an inspiration to us all xoxo.

Leighton
Leighton

October 30, 2019

Happy 100th Birthday, Monique! You have always been a shining beacon of light to your family and dear friends. It just took some of us a hundred years to fully appreciate your wonderful spirit of creativity shared with others!

allan simon
allan simon

October 25, 2019

happy birthday Monique, from Allan Christopher Simon aged ]like good wine ] 92 years of age

,

Gindy
Gindy

October 25, 2019

How lovely. What a beautiful tribute to an amazing mom! Much love to all.

Zoe Greenberg
Zoe Greenberg

October 25, 2019

Your Mother is such a lovely and elegant woman. I am thrilled that she is celebrating this major landmark with her family.

Nina wood
Nina wood

October 25, 2019

Congratulations dear Monique!i am sorry not to have known about this amazing friends birthday and I have
Tried to contact Anthony and Adeline several times over the past years but with no response from them…upsetting
As I am pushing 90! Just an elderly adolescent! So please ,would someone be so kind to contact me as Monique
And Francis we’re dear friends for a very long time and when the store closed,and nobody responded to my calls
It was very upsetting….how beautiful she looks…
Hoping to hear from one of the Olmers.
Sincerely
Nina Wood
914 763 3614

Olivia Santiago
Olivia Santiago

October 25, 2019

Happy Birthday, Granny! So blessed to have such a strong, powerful, influential women in my life.

Tohmas
Tohmas

October 25, 2019

How beautiful and wonderful💜 forwarding to my father!

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