Ever have the feeling that something in the universe drives you, or at least pats you on the back in some way to say that you are headed down the right path? I took a break today from writing after receiving a particular email notification. The local estate sale listing had been updated. If you love a good estate sale and do not know how to go about finding them in your area, go to estatesales.net and you will thank me for the time you spend there, or maybe you will curse me for the money you end up spending. My break took me to an upcoming sale close to my home. I reviewed several hundred items and was almost to the end of a sale, one that wasn't really appealing to my tastes. Then, a madonna and child sprung from the pages.
The painting shown is a Robert Ferruzzi, from 1897. So calming and inspiring. I immediately started looking for a place to hang her in my office. I have a particular fondness for Madonnas, they inspire me and remind me of the importance of motherhood and of being devoted to your family. In my office there are six Madonnas. Why six? Because I had just found the seventh!
A thrift store Madonna hangs to my right. Mary and Child are simple, a Hummel portrait. I recently realized that this image was a Hummel print as the signature is hidden by the surrounding gilded frame. Beside this mother and child hangs a single resin Mary from Italy that I have had for years. Possibly a gift from my mom as the figure seems tied to her in my mind. Mary's face is turned in my direction when I sit at my desk, her head bent, eyes closed, hands clasped in prayer. Draped over the haloed head of this Virgin Mother are five vintage rosaries which belonged to a special someone, a person I have come to know but never met.
In front of my desk is a porcelain Madonna which beloged to my mother. On top of that same cabinet is La Virgen del Cobre, encapsulated in a wood and glass vessel. This Madonna is the patroness of Cubans, legendary among the island's inhabitants, a gift from a cousin who was never able to flee. Hemmingway left his Pulitzer prize at her feet in thanksgiving for all of his accomplishments.
To my left is the Sistine Madonna by Raphael which was predominantly displayed for years in the home of the owner of the rosaries. The last is Mary and Jesus, a hand tinted, black-and-white photo that my mother did; an image of the tile mural that hangs outside the Catedral de San Juan in Puerto Rico.
After I made plans to attend this estate sale with my daughter, I returned to the job at hand, writing a historic nonfiction of travel and romance in 1925. Turning the page in my protected binder of letters, leaving a four page letter written to "Mother" from Rome, Italy, dated January 11, 1926, a post card was revealed. It was of the same Madonna and child, called the Madonnina by Ferruzzi, and my heart filled. I could feel the importance of this moment flow through my body, from my heart and then out every finger and down my legs. Was this a higher power sending a sign of thanksgiving for the work I was doing? Something in the universe that was telling me that the 61,000 words written so far were not recorded in vain?
I continued writing that day, feeling that was what I was meant to do iwth my day. In the end, I missed out on purchasing the postcard's twin. Somewhere inside I felt that she would wait for me. Rising early on Saturday to get to the front of the line and ready for the 50% off discount, I searched for her once the doors opened. My sought for mother and child had vanished, already spoken for, and by this point they were adorning the walls of another's home. Madonnina, you warmed my heart and brought me joy. The longing shown on your face inspired a full day of writing about life in Italy in 1925. I too long...to see the completion of this project. If I were unable to complete this story, I can say without hesitation that my life, as full as it has been, would not be complete. I'll keep your image and this vintage postcard to inspire the pages to come.