national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, September 1, 2011


‘Ma’ or Izabella Eriksson, produces over 100 drawings after a stroke that left her unable to walk or talk. Brian gives his mother a pen to see if she can write. Instead she starts to draw. Her drawings inspired him to write MA! An Awakening.

“I was compelled,” he says. “The drawings are intense and full of import.”

Ma! An Awakening follows in the line of constructive personal accounts of stroke survivors. In A Stroke of Luck, actor Kirk Douglas described his personal transformation. Brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor in A Stroke of Insight revealed how her stroke opened up new dimensions of perception and creativity.

At a time when it is common practice to put ailing parents into frail care, Eriksson turns the tide and single-handedly takes care of his mother at his home in Durban.

“With next to no experience, I have jumped into the deep end,” he writes early on in the book, as he contemplates the enormity of the task ahead of him. “If I fail, Ma will have to go back to frail care.”

He doesn’t fail and Ma shows a determination that enables her to participate in the home, wheeling herself around in the chair, straightening and cleaning what she can reach, and even folding pillowcases. She can’t talk – but she rules the roost. She is not house-bound and they take a cruise to Cape Town, frequent visits to Johannesburg, excursions to the game reserve, mountains, beach, movies, theatre, fashion shows, ashrams, churches and temples.

Ma inevitably declines in physical health but shows a feisty spirit. This book is a tribute to a courageous mother and is written in an engagingly warm tone by a man who is son, nurse, cook, chauffeur and more. The book is a tale of inspiration for anyone faced with caring for others, as he shows love, compassion and patience in spadesful.

Eriksson encourages us to keep our parents at home whenever possible, and makes mention of Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Zulu concepts regarding care of parents and the elderly.

This book is not only for stroke survivors, their carers and families, but is also aimed at a general audience. Written in a contemporary style with simplicity and clarity, it is dedicated to compassion, to the transformative power of love in action. The book has 170 full-colour images of Ma's drawings, Eriksson's paintings and digitised photographs of their experiences.

Ma! An Awakening by Brian Eriksson is published by Berik Books 2011 and available in all good bookstores or directly from Brian Eriksson on 083 296 3074 or 032 943 3608. Email: Face Book Page: