Living the Sweet Life: The Spirit’s Song

By Alisa Murray
Nationally recognized
portrait artist and

Hey Sweet Lifers! Every now and then something happens that makes you stop and realize there’s always an angel on your shoulder. Always. Over the years I have referred to these experiences as “God Winks” that reassure us that we are headed in the right direction and cast a warm feeling on what might be a darker time in our lives. Sometimes they show up at the exact moment when you need them and in such a way that it’s so obvious what they are up to that it’s like a spirit’s song.

Many of you are aware that during this crazy pandemic while things went a little sideways, I launched a Youtube channel. If you have not checked that out, and you like to cook, garden, decorate and hear from some interesting people how they are living their “sweet lives” or have a good laugh, I do recommend it. My transfer from being behind the camera for 23 years to becoming center stage in front of it was surprisingly quite easy. The taping and being able to “turn it on” came naturally, and I attribute this to having done so many live tv interviews. What I had not anticipated, though, was what doing this would do to the deepest level of my psyche.

Mother with my cousin Ann.

Everyone that has read me or knows me knows that my Mother was killed when I was eight. What you might not know is that I look exactly like my mother, so much so that when Brian and I go home, people literally still, after living here for 30 years and Mother being dead for 43, stop me and say things like, “I remember when…” and “Oh my goodness if she had lived, I know exactly what she would have looked like!” And I will tell you this does not phase me, not even a little bit, because I have had this reaction from my hometown community basically my entire life. There were very few pictures taken of Mother as she was most often the one taking them, (acorns fall close to their trees) and at her funeral, my late Uncle Jim, a professional photographer; took many of his baby sister in her casket. I really wish he had not ever done that. These images have haunted me and are like that day somehow sealed into a private space that never tarnishes no matter how many years go by.

While editing videos for the channel, I began to notice that I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable, especially in the cooking episodes, when I was looking down at whatever I was preparing. I could not quite put words to it for the longest time. Then one day I looked at B and said, “Oh my God, I look like Mother in the casket!” Articulating finally what I was experiencing and this made me very sad. Looking like her is both a blessing and all at once a curse.

My Great Aunt Melda Lee passed early this year, and when I went home, I was given a box full of my columns (yes this very one) and slides and obituaries and a handful of carefully chosen pictures that she wanted me to have. In the small stack, there’s one of Mother, a new one that I have never seen before. She’s looking down as no one ever does in pictures really, ever, . . . but in this one she’s very much alive! Alive! It took me only a few seconds to realize the image for what it really meant – a beautiful gift assuring me that I can do this, and she’s very much aware of the images that are stuck inside my head. I love that I am able to recognize this for exactly what it is.

Mother knows what I am going through as she always has, and having her looking down and looking just like me and not in that damn casket is her way of rooting me on in this life! Now I have a new picture of her, a spirit’s song so to speak, where we both share the gift of life. She might be gone from where I can see her, but she’s letting me know loud and clear she ain’t left me. That my friends is something quite special!

Take Care of YOU and stay “sweet!”