Friday, November 28, 2008


for any one and every one who knows loss

peace to you this holiday season and always



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Dad. My Veteran.

Unforgettable - Nat King and Natalie Cole
Press the ARROW symbol ONCE on the screen to play while you are visiting this post ~ thank-you.

He was born in 1924. He marked his years by quarters. He died 23 days ago at age 84 and 3/4s. He was not ready to go, but he walked through the veil into eternity finally surrendering to the Hand of God mere moments after he had dinner and he had a day of visitors in that hospital room. He had a procedure scheduled the next morning. This wasn’t suppose to happen.
God is sovereign. I am not mad at Him, but I am mad at a few other things and people. I didn’t really want to blog about this, yet I have thought of little else lately. I have addressed about 150 envelopes so far, I have become friends with Bud the headstone salesman, Mike the Funeral Director, and a small cast of other characters I never knew existed 23 days ago.

My Dad was not sick. In the days before this happened he insisted on making Mom drive their van around the block just to see if she still could. He made it clear he wanted me to ‘handle things’ and made an official appointment to be sure I did. He made several other eternal gestures that previous week that make us all now stand in stunned silence in hindsight.

"Twilight Regatta" acrylic n canvas board
Maybe it is weird, but inside each thank-you being mailed I tucked in a print of one of my Dad’s paintings. It is certainly one of my favorites. It showed what he was really capable of. It was done as a 4”x6” on canvas board when I had him painting postcard size. I wish it were 4 foot by six foot! I pushed him along through all my own art phases… artist trading card 2.5” x 3.5” size, postcard size, mini inchie size and so on - he always eagerly jumped into whatever whim I presented to him.
He loved the process of making art and waiting on the praise. You see, as artists that is what we do somehow. We make it and wait to see what the world says. Part of the lesson is learning to make it no matter what anyone says, but we still really get charged when there is the tiniest accolade awaiting the other side of the making of it.
My Dad was without question my biggest praiser. My art walked-on-water to him - even if it didn’t. He saw into it - the gift behind whatever I was making. Even if it was only a whiff of an idea… a plan to be rolled out and I was dealing in pieces and parts of a greater thing… he saw the thing too. He got it.
My Dad never made ‘proper’ art that we ever saw growing up, but he was unmistakably an artist. He was constantly moving and making. He was forever tearing apart a car, painting a wall (again and again), painting a car, buying a car to tear apart or paint, building something… dreaming. He rarely finished anything. He could see the end in his own head and sometimes that was enough. He made small pencil sketches when asked by a young daughter (me) or later, young grandson… we knew. Yes, he was an artist always.
Around his 81st birthday I set him up with ‘real’ art supplies. He was championing me in my eBay art selling endeavors and he was just bubbling inside. When he had his own paint, brushes, and the right sizes and kinds of papers and canvases he went to work quickly and prolifically. Many years of dreaming came spilling out. He made it then waited quietly for the praise. I wanted him to be content in the process regardless of praise (or none) - but he found plenty of applause from everyone and his small format art sold well on eBay when I offered it!
He painted nearly 2 years until potential changes in living location prompted his art supplies to be packed away. He struggled with his things gone, but slowly gained them back and bought new things, and began painting again as much as he could. I stopped selling his work after that initial pack-up of his studio since I didn’t know when or if he would paint again. I felt the need to hoard his work after that time knowing it was so limited. It was never the same as in those first two years he painted and made messes so freely, but it was clear once again he was an artist and no one could take that from him.
You can take the studio away from the artist, but you can’t take the soul out of the artist. You were expecting “you can take the artist out of the studio, but you can’t take the studio (art) out of the artist”… but I like my first version better.
The morning my husband was ironing my Dad's clothes for the funeral he noticed red paint on the nice white shirt Mom had given us for Dad to wear. I had to smile as I glanced up at myself in the bathroom mirror near where the ironing board was and saw green paint on the cuff of my own white sleeve.
I am the youngest of six. He was different with me. That is just the way it was. I have observed that where a teenager might have discord with his parents, he finds a special bond with his grandparents. Sometimes I wonder if Dad and I were more like that. We were past the kid-parent contention and more into the grandparent-grandchild magic - maybe because he was 40 when I was born and maybe because I went away to college and didn’t move back to our hometown for such a long time. Maybe it was because I 'got' him (I didn’t agree with him a lot but I got him… and he got me). When we did share a view point (especially about people) - we were like amalgamated metals.
I became the family historian and genealogy researcher about 15 years ago. Dad’s war stories became my war stories. I asked and listened over and over to get them inside of my head. This past July we set up a 10’ x 20’ tent at a local air show - featuring our collection of WWII photos and memorabilia - with Sam telling his experience live-in-person. He was fantastic and he was given the respect and praise so deserved.
He flew 38 missions over Europe in the belly of a B-17 Bomber. He was a waist gunner as well as an occasional tail gunner. I could go on for days telling you his stories.
He was honest. He was fair. He was sensitive. He was blunt.
I really only wanted to say that I miss him and I always will.

He called me Jayne.


Read more about Sam from my previous blog posts.... please look

I wrote a little about him here (personal WWII photos):

And I featured a little bit about his art here: