Story and photos by Ted Simpson –
Andrea Stokes, well known for her painting and textile artwork, has a book recommendation that is sure to inspire some deep thinking.
Stokes’ first book pick is Opening Heaven’s Door: What the Dying Might be Trying to Tell us About Where They are Going, by Patricia Pearson (granddaughter of Lester B.).
“She’s an incredibly intellectual, thoughtful, rigorous thinker and also hysterically funny,” Stokes says about Pearson’s writing style.
Pearson is able to insert humour into a typically unfunny subject, death. More specifically, the spiritual experiences people have had around the deaths of those closest to them. For example, it could be a message from the beyond, a vision or foreknowledge of a loved one’s passing.
It’s an abstract subject to tackle. Obviously none of these experiences have been proven, yet they are very widely reported.
“It’s about not being a flake, and listening to what these people have to say without dismissing them,” says Stokes.
In the book, Pearson uses a journalistic approach to seek out people who have had what is referred to as Near Death Awareness and shares their stories incorporated with scientific explanations on the phenomena. Pearson started working on the project after the sudden death of her father, followed closely by her sister dying of cancer.
It’s a heavy subject, and it is one that certainly deserves attention.
“Death is not something that we really talk about,” says Stokes. Opening Heaven’s Door invites readers to talk about it with an open mind and without fear of scrutiny.
The second book on Stokes’ list is The Love Monster: A Novel, by local author Missy Marsten. Stokes describes Marsten’s novel as “funny, and sweet, and tender.” It’s about a lady named Margaret H. Atwood who, in mid-life, has encounters with a whole host of bizarre characters and an alien who speaks in the voice of Donald Sutherland.
You will almost certainly be seeing Stokes’ artwork around town this summer, as she’s been chosen to adorn one of the Bell boxes on Wellington West with her art, adding to the collection of boxes already painted by ARPi and Daniel Martelock.
This post is part of our KT summer reads issue. Read all of our other profiles right here.