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In Honor

(This is part three of at "story behind the paintings" series. I encourage you to go back and read the two previous posts to be able to understand this beautifl story.)

I have never experienced watching a parent grow into their elderly years. My mother passed away at forty eight, when I was just eight years old. My father, although he lived into his eighties, was vibrant and healthy and independent , until a car accident suddenly took him from us.

So I have only observed others around me who begin to notice the subtle changes that take place as a their parents begin to enter the sunset of their lives.

I can only imagine what it must be like to see the people you have always turned to for strength and guidance all your life, begin to falter in physical and cognitive ways. And I would imagine those moments would serve to remind grown children of the heart breaking truth that time is limited. It is a time of preparation for the inevitable. And a time to, in a thousand small ways, honor them through love and care.

When M. called me last Fall and asked to get together to discuss a piece she would like to commission me to do, I was thrilled. I enjoyed working with her in the choosing of her other two paintings, and her timing was perfect, as I was closing out 2022 and planning out projects for 2023. I also had a feeling of what the commissioned piece might be, and I already thought it was a beautiful idea.

When we met up, M. explained that both her parents were in their nineties and she was thinking about the future and ways that she could honor them after they were gone. She spoke of the paintings she already had in her collection - the ones she had purchased from me in honor of her two brothers that passed away. She told me that she walks by the paintings daily and thinks of memories of her brothers as she goes by. She then told me that she would like to prepare in advance for her parents' passing, by commissioning a floral painting to honor them, when that time came.

For some that might sound like a morbid conversation. But it wasn't. While of course, the thought of her parents' passing was a sad one, her perspective was refreshing. She told me she knew they would be in Heaven, and that could only make her happy. Also, she shared the thought that this painting ( along with the other two) would be a family heirloom, to be passed down, along with the story of who it was in remembrance of, to future generations, That was an incredible thought.

And so the discussion turned to the painting itself with two factors taking center stage: one, the flowers that would be chosen specifically with family memories in mind - Pink Gladiolus, Coneflower, and Baptisia that

were all part of the family garden. And of course, Calla Lillies.

The second factor was that this would need to be a two part painting. I would come up with a composition that would allow me to add to it later. Because, most likely, one parent would go before the other, the first painting would include all the requested flowers, and one Calla Lilly. It would be used to honor that parent at their funeral and after. But I would leave room to, at some future point, add a second Calla Lily when her second parent passed.

I have never heard of an idea like this before. It is so unique and well thought through. In my mind, I think how we each uniquely deal with the passing of a loved one - in the grieving afterwards, but also in the preparation of our hearts before it happens.

And so, for the past month I have enjoyed the process of trying to tell a but of this particular family's story through paint on a canvas. It truly has been an honor to be a part of this. And it will be an honor to, when the time comes, to take the painting back, to complete the story.

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