(also, I finished redesigning my online store this week, what do you think of the fun paint-blobby thumbnails on the home page?)
Over the last 6 days I’ve committed myself to a big job – going through my late father's albums and scanning the photos. Page after page, the tangled feelings included guilt (over my intention to throw away the hard copies), comfort in the sweetness, and gratitude that we even have this many photos. I’m happy to say I found one more photo of me with my dad. Now I have 4 counting the two we took in Maui. He has a bird on his finger!
I put the huge stack of scanned photos in my studio garbage can THREE times, because three times I pulled them back out to be sure I hadn’t missed any. Then, I put them in my garage garbage. I also mailed a large majority of the good ones to my 100-year-old grandma and my aunt, to share a trip down memory lane ♥
I actually got OUT OF BED at 1130pm last night, to go dig in the garage can… because when I closed my eyes on my pillow, I immediately saw a photo of my mom at about the age I am now, and I NEEDED that hard copy. Even though I had a lovely high-resolution scan of it. So off I went to dig in the trash.
I quite quickly found the photo I wanted, and 5 or 6 more that I didn’t realize I needed 😊
I hope scanning and releasing will further acceptance. 25 years of attempts to accept. Just as pimples leave pink spots on my skin long after they have healed, grievances and sadness leave footprints on my heart longer than it seems they should.
I’m learning that facing, writing, and creating can help one pull through, though. A Silent Story was a 3-year labor of heart whose creation helped bring me through a friendship-breakup with pain lasting longer than it might have for others. I am a minimalist in my possessions but hold onto things in my soul. I suppose being able to hold onto feelings is what allows me to use them for creation once I’m squared up at the easel, or the keyboard.
Here is another snippet from my may-never-see-the-light-of-day memoir:
No one offered me therapy… was my first thought after listening to Anderson Cooper’s ‘All There Is’ podcast ep ‘You Are Not Alone’. Where a woman recalled her father’s death in the ocean when she was 18 years old. Walking down the beach to determine why he had not yet come back from swimming she saw him floating. He looked like a cardboard box at first, she said. She swam out to him and flipped him over. He was blueish and she knew he was gone.
I stood at my easel, shaking, with paused brush… never had I heard a story so like my own. My first thought was that I hadn’t been smart enough to flip my dad over, I instead held his neck at an awkward angle, attempting to keep his masked-face out of the ocean as I flippered madly to shore. Hence the first (and incorrectly placed) wave of grief that insisted I had let him drown. My grandma later went to the rental shop to return the snorkel gear and had to tell the story of why my father’s fins and my mask were nowhere to be found. They did not charge extra.
The woman in the podcast spoke of having 15 minutes of quiet, floating with her father. My float with my father was full of screaming and cussing to alert whoever I could. They ignored me at first, those people positioned like ghosts on the shore. Standing straight and tall with their arms to their sides, looking out blankly at the hollering girl.
The woman in the story’s dad was gone when she found him, where mine spoke to me one last time. When she arrived home, she was offered therapy and people checked on her to make sure she was okay.
In 1998, therapy was stigmatized in my little world, and I wonder if those at home even KNEW the details. Even 25 years later… can they imagine the tight grip on a dead-weight, slippery body in choppy waves, pulling him onto the sand and flinging the snorkel and mask into the ocean; that blueish face, and the sand on his lifeless eyes…
This week, my original painting Endure SOLD, and headed off to her deserving new owner in Michigan. On Tuesday, I sent her off for her trip ¾ of the way across the USA. I have prints in a variety of sizes here. Or free ones, here.
Several times this week I have looked over to the empty nail on my studio wall, so I just now hung Comfort in that place. This soft and gentle piece that feels like a mother’s moment of holding onto a growing-too-fast and wiggly baby.
I can see the child’s eyes, even though I can’t “see” them… can you? Looking curiously out on the big sea, perhaps for the first time. Wide and watery from the wind, spellbound. Most likely a little pointing finger is involved.
She takes a moment to feel the warmth of her child, to hear the foamy surf, to experience the chill on her bare arms, the small flashes of sun that mean the day will surely warm up as they play. This moment is a gift.
CONNECTION is a gift. Saying hello to strangers; brightening the day of someone who may go home to no sunshine. My connection with my people (like you!) is an absolute GIFT. I appreciate you being here. I am grateful to you if you’ve read this far. We all want to feel seen and heard and recognized.
May we not wait until someone is gone
and we are looking through old photos
of them, to SEE them.
Let’s ASK questions, pick up the phone.
Send an email, launch off a loving text.
Pack an envelope full of photos
and make an old lady’s day ♥
Let’s act while we can, to love those we are connected with, and to minimize later regrets and aching needs for acceptance.
Love & Sincerely,