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): http://blueyeduckstudios.blogspot.com/2007/10/world-war-ii-thank-you-ken-burns.html

And I featured a little bit about his art here: http://blueyeduckstudios.blogspot.com/2007/06/d-day.html


Unknown said...

a lovely tribute to your dad, he sounds like he was an amazing man. hugs!

Pressed Ink said...

Wow! It's great when a child really connects with a parent and visa versa. What an awesome salute to him who obviously meant so much to you. I'm sorry for your loss. Watch out, cyber hugs headed your way! ~Inky

teastudio said...

What a beautiful and moving tribute, katey. How blessed you are to have had such a loving and supportive Dad!

I believe that heaven is a place of astonishing beauty that surpasses anything we can imagine and think that your Dad is, at this very moment, creating with a palette of colors beyond our wildest dreams! One day you will be painting along side him again but, until then, I pray that the memories of your time together will bring you comfort and even joy during this difficult time.

God Bless you and your family.

Francesca said...

A truly beautiful eulogy. I'm so glad you have such happy memories of him, he was obviously a very special person.

I'm sorry for your loss, big hugs for you always.

Flora said...

you talk of the connection I always longed for with my parents...I feel for your loss, but I know that the sweet memories of your precious dad will sustain you thru the good as well as the difficult times in life...
Many Blessings,Flora

Lisa Lectura Creations said...

Hi Katey! A wonderful tribute for a truly unforgettable man! It's so lovely that you had a great connection with your dad. Thanks for sharing!

Also, thanks for your sweet comment on my blog! I really appreciate it! :)


Denise Aumick said...

kD-Jayne...I really don't know what to say except thank you for sharing with such heart. I think your Dad Sam was helping to guide your fingers as you typed. xoxoxoxox

Dixie Redmond said...

Oh, Katey - I can feel the love you have for your father from your writing. I don't know what to say other than here's a hug!


Unknown said...

Hey Sweets~I've nominated you for a Marie Antoinette, A real person, A real award! Love your blog and hope you accept this award in the spirit in which it was given. See my blog posting of 11.16 for details. Many hugs, Caar

Sandra Caldwell said...

Hi Katey
Sweetie you need to do more posting this post was the only way to contact you...
Drop by my Babycakes Cornbread Kid Swap Blog and get your award...Congrats Sandra

Bridget said...

You so very eloquently described your Dad I feel like I knew him, somehow. It's one of the best things for a daughter to have a Dad who is proud of her. It makes her a strong & confident woman. I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Shabby Cottage Studio said...

Katey I am so sorry to hear about your dad. What a lovely tribute you wrote to him. I'm waving at you and sending you a big hug. And Im wish you a Happy Thanksgiving but I'm sure it will be a strange one for you and your family without your beloved father.

Jane Pierce aka zJayne said...

Dearest Jayne,

How moving, warm and insightful to have the chance to read this caring memory and thoughts of your Father. He "got" you and you "got" him... I consider that a blessing of a lifetime. How lucky to know that when your loved one is still with you.

Thank you for sharing. I feel lucky to know you in the way that I do.

Warm hugs xo

Unknown said...


I'm sorry for your loss, and thank you for sharing so intimately your thoughts, affection, respect, and love for your father. He was an impressive man, and it's easy to see how wonderful he was through you.

Take care,


Raspberry Grace said...

Dear Katey,

what a wonderful heart wrenching post.

I see how much you loved your Dad and that in return how much he loved you..I can't imagine a greater gift, I really can't.

I was lucky enough recently to have someone buy me *Cat On A Hot Tin Roof* on dvd, it is one of my most favourite films ever, and in it there is a scene where Big Daddy talks about his old dad and how he *loved that old man more than he ever loved anything*.

It makes me cry every time I watch it (and I have watched it so so many times) because it is so GENUINE, so real and true, and you FEEL the love emanating from the screen.. well I felt the same when I read your words.

No one can ever take that love from you Katey, it is your gift forever, and I thank God for it for you.


Love, Rasp xx

Can I just add how completely right you are about the art, and the praise, and the needing to get past that and do it anyway,these silly things we make, but they contain our heart, and our hearts DO hurt when they are not well recieved.. but maybe it is that tenderness and feeling that enables us to make in the first place?

Cherie said...

I am fortunate that I was led here today...

Your relationship with God, above all else, is astounding. He has given you many precious gifts and many Blessings, one of which is your incredible father. Another is your strength of character.

I smiled and felt the warmth of love as I read your words. You shared a huge part of your life and your wonderful father's life with all of us and that is such a giving gesture. Opening up your heart in such a time as this, truly takes strength. It is truly 'giving'.

You've also given me a gift. That gift is the KNOWLEDGE that I am not sorry for the loss of my own dad. It's been a year since January 10th, and my grief of his passing has really been overwhelming me, moreso in the last few months, and I could not understand why.

By reading this I've learned that saying I'm sorry for his loss is all wrong...I am not sorry, for sorrow comes from 'shame' of which I am not. I did not have a 'loss' for he is not lost, he is with me, always and forever, for he is a part of me, as I am a part of him. I celebrate my dad's life and sing praises that he is with God now! I will embrace those times when I will just miss him so much and will smile with happiness instead of cry from sorrow.

Your father is so proud of you Katey, Jayne...he is smiling upon you as he and God are slapping paint on canvas together!

Big, huge hugs and warmest smiles to you,


BlueGirl62 said...

Your last line did me in.

Daughters who have had fathers who love them are a lucky, lucky breed.

My father too is an artist, a love he taught me, rather than I he.

What a loving tribute, I know he is somewhere smiling at your words.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing.


Theresa Hall said...

I can barely read this for the tears-for you and for me. I promise to reread this when I'm able. I love your tribute to your dad. I am taking your kind advice and will write one for him too. Hugs and love-Theresa