The Last Shoe
Installation, 2020

Here lay my mother’s shoes. Lifted from the pile is the last shoe my mother ever wore; its partner lost in the shuffle when she fell in the middle of the night.
My mother Peggy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Christmas Day, 2017. In February, we were told she had about six months to live. I thought, “At least we can have one more Spring and Summer together.” After being in and out of rehabilitation with complications, we moved her out of her Brooklyn, NY apartment into our West Hartford home in April, 2018. A month later, she slipped in the middle of the night. She fell onto her shoulder and her arm, breaking them both. Exhausted from the trauma while already losing the battle with her disease, she closed her eyes in the Emergency Room, and never opened them in full consciousness again.
I bought her that shoe. She lit up every time she told me she loved the color and the soft warm lining. All the shoes here hold memories, but the last shoe triggers a slew of what if’s:
What if the soles were too slippery?
What if the bed I bought her was too high?
What if I had slept downstairs that night?
What if I didn’t have that last argument with her?
What if…?
"What's Left Behind" is an ongoing multimedia series, processing both the animate and inanimate objects that are left behind when an individual is no longer among the living.
The sub-series "Peggy" is the processing of the liferemnants of my mother, Peggy Chen (1941–2018).
Currently on view until February 29th, at the Farmington Valley Arts Center.