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Saturday, November 26, 2011


(The book cover, designed by Cosmic Creations)

Brian Eriksson tells the story of caring for his stroke-victim mother with candour, humour and compassion. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The cover of Ma! An Awakening shows a bright-eyed elderly lady with a quirky smile wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, beaded jewellery and an elegant jacket over a pretty floral dress.

This is Izabella Eriksson (Ma), the mother of KZN art lecturer, painter, yoga therapist and inspirational speaker Brian Eriksson. Some nine months to the day when the focus of her life for 60 years, husband Gordon Eriksson, died, her mind was elsewhere. So much so that she locked herself out of the house by mistake. Trapped in the small garden of her unit without access to food (Ma was diabetic) for a full day before she was rescued undoubtedly acted as an aggressive factor to the stroke she suffered a week later.

When Ma finally regains consciousness and comprehension, she is unable to speak but Brian finds that he can interpret her silent communications. He is told by the neurologist that parapsychology is possible if empathy is strong enough. Brian’s empathy must have been considerable because although Ma was never able to utter much more than “ma”, she delivered this single syllable in such a way that spoke volumes.

Given a pen to see if she could write, Ma drew instead and the book follows the fascinating process of how she progresses from a network of crazy paving-like patterns which eventually developed into geometric panels and structures to images resembling clothing and figures. These drawings virtually chart her way back to full comprehension although she was never able to walk or talk again.

The book relates the journey of mother and son as Brian moves her to Durban and, with the help and support of friends and the spiritual community at an Ashram north of Durban, he creates a home for her. They travel, enjoy theatre and generally lead a full life. However, crime rears its ugly head and they are soon on the move again.

Brian’s unshakable love for his mother and determination to do his best for her as well as his strong spiritual beliefs sees him through the difficult process of dealing single-handedly with a stroke victim and all it entails. Particularly a stroke victim as feisty as the indomitable Ma!

He relates the process humbly and with humour and candour – we share his despair when things seem impossible - and one is left with the belief that Ma was in the best hands right until her end. The book will provide much inspiration and comfort to those in a similar situation.

Ma! An Awakening by Brian Eriksson is “dedicated to compassion” and has 170 full-colour images of Ma's drawings, Eriksson's paintings and digitised photographs of their experiences. Published by Berik Books 2011, and retailing at R220, it is available in all good bookstores or directly from Brian Eriksson on 083 296 3074 or 032 943 3608. Email: Face Book Page: - Caroline Smart