Friday, July 24, 2009

An Unexpected Gift

Last Sunday, almost five years after the passing of my father, I received yet another sign that people live on after their deaths. Not that I needed one, of I bet you have, too, I've seen plenty of evidence that this is the case.

Following in the footsteps of his mother, my dad was a visual artist. She -- a late bloomer in this department -- began in her 70s to paint landscapes, still lifes and street scenes, mostly oils but some watercolors. Dad, on the other hand, focused more on inked cartoons and caricatures, and he was pretty good. They were a big hit at our childhood birthday parties -- each child would go home with a really unique party favor (I've often wondered where some of these ended up!). After his retirement, he had the time to apply himself to some more serious work, but evidently he produced nothing he felt compelled to share.

He also liked to collect unusual art, especially antique maps of places he visited. Many of these were hanging on the walls of our home when we were growing up -- puzzlingly, he kept them in cheap plastic box frames that he claimed helped to preserve them. Ugly, but functional.

After our old house was sold (and subsequently demolished to make way for a tasteless McMansion, complete with lawn jockey) and my dad had passed away, my sister couldn't bring herself to get rid of all of those maps, so she stacked them in her basement and pretty much forgot about them. Recently, though, during a renovation, she dusted them off and took another look. Deciding they might look nice on her walls, she took a couple of the best ones downtown to have them properly framed.

As she and the framer removed the first one from its plastic box, they were surprised to find something behind it -- a large detailed pencil sketch of ME. Judging from the hairstyle, it's circa about 1989. No idea how he did it, why he kept it, or why he hid it away behind a yellowed map of Crete. But, as you can probably understand, to me it was a more thrilling discovery than a heretofore unknown Rembrandt.

Did he ever intend for me to see it? I guess I'll never know. One thing is for sure: I'll always be thankful that my sister, five years ago, didn't just toss my father's maps in a dumpster!

All this led me to wonder...what will I leave behind for someone else to find? And what will it mean to the person who finds it?

Whatever it is, it had better be something good.

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stargazer said...

I love your blog. That drawing must feel like a gift from heaven. You are so fortunate to have received such a jewel from your Dad.

Corabeth said...

Wow, Pink. How cool is that!

Funny how we can date ourselves by our hairstyles, eh?

limey said...

Pink What a lovely unexpected gift! Your father was very talented.

Anonymous said...

How nice that you have that memento from your father!

robyn428 said...

Pink - what a special remembrance to cherish!

I have been cleaning out my deceased parents' clutter, and came across some of my mom's paintings. She took a night school class in oil paints, and I recall her grumbling about the various "still life" projects, that she disliked. But, among them I found a dusty, neglected portrait of a covered bridge (she loved them) - she never showed it to anyone! I am so thrilled to now have this is a frame. I just wish she had been confident enough to share it, years ago.

Anonymous said...

Pink - waht an incredibly sweet story. You came from a great family. No wonder you are such a cool person.

IU Gal

stpteach said...

Oh, Pink, what a gift you received! I'm thrilled for you, truly.

Chardonnay said...

Beautiful Julia! Apparently talent runs in the family!

What a wonderful keepsake.