Carole Locke is my mother. She died at age 62 after a long and painful illness. She had lung cancer.
Traditionally, mass cards are sent on the anniversary of the death of a loved one. They usually contain the decesased's favorite prayer or bible verse. Sometimes they contain a request for intercession to the patron saint of the deceased.
The first card was based on a studio photograph of my mom. I thought of her as the patron of the artist. She was very encouraging to my and my friends - she was a great lover of art and the people who made it. In the Cleveland Museum of Art, she said to me "I think that God made the artist because there are things He wants them to see." I used this as her prayer on the card and on 26 April, 2005 I mailed these cards to artist friends and people who loved her.
I didn't stop there.
My mother worked for a home health care agency for well over a decade-an agency that had the imprimatur of an order of Catholic nuns. (My mother was a devout Catholic for most of her life.) When my mother got sick, she was fired from her job. She was accused of being a drug addict when she was taking her medications for chemotherapy and pain. When I challenged the head of the religious order-an order whose mission is to aid women and children-I was told that they could not discuss a human resource issue with me.
During my mother's illness, she was treated terribly by her surgeons and her doctors, all of whom assumed that she was not as sick as she said she was. When I asked a surgeon about advice for long-term care after a procedure that was supposed to help my mother maintain continence in the wake of the pain she was in, I was told that it wouldn't be necessary, and that I should really take responsibility for my mother's care.
So I keep a database of names of all the people who treated my mother poorly at the end of her life. I send these cards to them as well. Many of them have public social media profiles and I monitor them for job changes, moves and the like. I make sure to send them these cards on the anniversary of my mother's passing.
First Card 2005
"I think that God made the artist to show people things they need to see."
June 19, 1942-April 26, 2004
Second Card 2006
Third Card 2007
Taken from an image of my parents on their first date. The cigarettes on the table were my father's.
Fourth Card 2008
This photo is from the Church of Mary at Ephesus, a site, venerated for centuries, that is of particular significance to Catholic women.
Fifth Card 2009
Sixth Card 2014