I started this piece by reflecting on home, the theme given to me by Naomi Woo. I have written many pieces about Manitoba’s big sky, the wind, the grasslands, the northern lights and the cold crisp winters. But as I consulted with my mom, Joyce Clouston, and read some of her recent work, I realized that home is also about deep relationships and deep connections.

The title of this piece …our inner lives were entwined…embroidered with the same pattern is a quote from Joyce Clouston’s story titled My Sister/Myself. Joyce (my mom) was the third child in a family of 7 children. Her oldest sister, Beverley, was the first child in the family and was medically fragile and physically disabled after complications at birth and related days-long seizures at age 6. The family lived on a farm, and for many years Joyce often helped to ensure of Beverley safety.
My mom (Joyce) always felt close to Bev and watched as her sister struggled in a world where people with disabilities were often hidden in institutions and not valued. As a child I saw this relationship between my mom and her sister and felt a closeness to Bev as well, especially because she would stay with us on a regular basis. Bev was always so excited to see all of us! The following is an excerpt from my mom’s story from which I took the quote for the title of this piece:

Much of my life had been influenced by my closeness to Beverley – my relationship with my children, my career. My academic research critiqued Western public policy historically separating the most vulnerable from their families and communities. I explored the values of our mother’s family that were rooted in Indigenous Traditional Knowledge where individuals like Beverley were viewed as ‘teachers’ bringing spiritual gifts to those close to, and caring for them
In the first year after Bev’s death, I felt raw, and in the three years since – an unquiet. I wanted to find a way to express what she’d meant to me beyond and beneath the words of research and publications. In the years during her imprisonment and especially in the months and first year of her recovery from the institution, we’d had troubling struggles, disagreements, and even shouting matches. But we kept reaching for each other and this brought us closer. Every once in a while, Beverley turned to me and said, “You’re my sister, I love you Joycie,” And then, she placed her head gently on my shoulder.
I felt the same way about her. I’ve heard the expression that people can be ‘cut from the same cloth’, and that was certainly true of our physical appearance, but I believe our inner lives were entwined somehow, as if embroidered with the same patterns, and we recognized these patterns in each other.

My mom describes so beautifully what I saw and what I experienced in our home.
To explore the interconnectedness of my aunt and mom in music, I developed motives from the letters of their names and their nicknames. The opening states their nicknames with high notes: Bevvie = B E A A B E and Joycie = C A D C B E. I also created collections from their full names: Beverley and Joyce. In all pitch collections B and E are important pitches in the piece. During the faster sections, the Beverley pitch collections are in the left hand with the Joyce pitch collections in the right. Through transpositions and transformations of the pitch-material, presented in an arch-like form, I am depicting the ups and downs of their lives, their relationship with each other, and their relationships with those around them. Beverley was an amazing aunt who had a zeal for life, an ability to state the uncomfortable truth, and to love deeply.