Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What A Difference A Day Makes

Here in the mid-West, it is a cold, dreary, and snowy day. It is not the cold and snow that I mind so much as it is the lack of sunshine. Here on the shores of Lake Michigan we get what is known as lake effect. The cold air comes across the warmer water and picks up moisture. This causes us to have greater snowfall and much more overcast. For me, gray days make for gray thoughts but then I read a posting by painter, Shari Jamieson and my thoughts changed direction.

Next Wednesday, my grandson, Aidan, will celebrate his first birthday. Shari’s post made me think back to when our youngest daughter came home one evening and told us she needed to talk with us. She had been living in San Diego and was having a hard time of it and returned to Michigan. She had been back less than 6 months and was making plans to enroll in a physical therapy program at the community college. After a few failed adventures, she was looking to get her life in order.

When she told us that she was pregnant I sat there smiling and chuckling. I commented that all those talks about practicing safe sex apparently went unheeded. We have also raised our daughters with the attitude that we wanted to teach them how to think and not what to think. Being an old hippie who was involved in the civil rights, farm workers, and anti war movements I have also embraced feminism. I taught my daughters that only they have the right to decide what should be done to their bodies. We are pro-choice here in the heart of the bible belt (here we are called pro-abortion but then I refer to the anti-choice people as being pro-fetus). My daughter made a choice, she had the baby and kept him, and as promised we supported her in her decision and continue to support and help her with her choice. She knows that being a single parent is not an easy task.

It hasn’t always been easy. There are days that I want to run away from home and try to reinvent myself but I know from experience that doesn’t work. So, I suck it up, pour a glass of wine (not whine) and get on with life. The plans that my wife and I had for retirement are now being redrawn. At my age I expected that my children would be moved out and living their own lives and that my wife and I would be able to go off and have some new adventures and to be a couple again, not just parents. That I would be able to spend more time with my art and follow those dreams. I did not expect to have an infant in the house again. Cie la vie!

Financial success as an artist has eluded me my whole adult life so what’s another decade of waiting? I don’t say that glibly. Success in life, for me, is not measured but what I do or achieve but how well I have learned and how well I have lived my life. Trying not to sound like a Hallmark card, but also by how well I have learned to love. My paintings seldom end up the way that they started out. The twists, turns, and mishaps that occur are all part of the process that forces me to see things in my art that I would’ve otherwise have missed. Art imitates life and life imitates art. In the case of the artist life and art are all one in the same. We find unexpected beauty where we least expect it. All those abandoned places and piles of debris that have been discarded and forgotten. Just look at the photos of Lori Witzel and you’ll see what I mean.

This has been an interesting year for me, filled with twists, turns, and mishaps. I lost my vehicle but survived a major car crash. My disability insurance has run out and I am not able to work due to my disability so I have no income. I am locked in mortal combat with the Social Security Administration trying to deny my disability (My doctors say I cannot return to work. To do so would only make my condition worse). Loss of income has forced us to sell our retirement property in New Mexico. The future looks so much grayer and bleak. I guess it’s time to tighten my belt and make some art out of all of this shit!

The one thing that outweighs all the other stuff is that a year ago this coming Wednesday our grandson, Aidan, was born. He’s my little buddy. He never complains when I repeat my stories. He laughs at all my jokes and he never tells me that what I’m doing is stupid or looks dumb. He is the happiest and most quirky human being that I have ever been so graced to meet. He really does help me to see the world with new eyes. Take comfort, Shari, your world is changing in unexpected ways so just fasten your seat belt and hang on for the ride and what a ride it will be. You will see things and go places that you never imagined. You will also find out things about yourself and your art that may surprise you. And like myself, with pastels, you may discover materials and techniques that you may otherwise have never considered. I know I did!

The above painting is oil on panel that measure 20” X 20” and is an image of my grandson when he was 6 months old. My daughter had just gotten him goggle style sunglasses for the bright summer sunshine. The photo is Aidan with his face pressed up against the sidelight of the door. He is trying to figure out what our dogs are barking at.


Blogger Pat's Place said...

Ah, those boomerang kids... And don't we love them?! Every time our adult son came home, he brought an extra person with him...first, a wife; then a wife and daughter; then a wife, daughter & son; and before they even moved out from THAT stay, they had their 3rd child, a daughter with a severe cleft palate requiring 6-8 months of extensive care including syringe feeding; surguries; almost daily MD and dentist visits.

And we LOVED it. Was it stressful? Absolutely. Sometimes we'd just go for a walk just to escape our own home for some quiet. But it was also a time of bonding unlike anything we had experienced with our son when he was growing up.

Time passes. All things change. They moved 6 hours away 12 years ago when the youngest was 3 years old... leaving a large void in our home. So it was finally time for the two of us to reinvent ourselves. We downsized a number of years ago, and still have mixed feelings about it. No one can return to the nest now, our nest is too small! Retirement looms ahead of us about 2 years out - and we haven't a clue as to what's next!

So, enjoy the ride. Grandkids are incredibly special beings that show us whole new ways to see, live, and be. The eldest grandchild is now in college - where did the time go???

5:28 PM  
Blogger Martha Marshall said...

Aidan is beautiful. And I love the portrait!

I know a lot about the things you've written here. Misplaced retirement, kids and grandkids who come back to stay for a while. You are right about finding joy in the midst of wherever we are.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Amy Stoner said...

That was beautiful...and so is your grandchild. Sometimes the things that bring about the most un-wanted change and disruption in our lives end up being those same things that bring us the most joy.

11:56 AM  
Blogger jamieson5 said...

Hey Ed, I have my seat belt fastened and I'm waiting for the ride to start, and I must say, with a bit a anxiety and a lot of excitement. I am leaving tomorrow to pick up my daughter and, I know from that moment on, life will never be the same.

It sounds like Aiden is such a gift to the family. He is adorable! I just bet that he loves spending time with his grandfather. Life really does hand us some incredible surprises.

Enjoy the birthday cake and ice cream.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Don't forget to take some Quiet Ed Time in the middle of the happy bumpy muddle. And that may or may not be creative time...but some quiet could be quite replenishing.

Sending Quiet Thoughts your way...

11:28 PM  
Blogger amber said...


7:19 PM  
Blogger amber said...

Oops i was testing to see if i could comment i've been having trouble commenting your grandson is very cute
I moved into my parents house too and had 4 kids so we are bnow 8 in all (it's a big house) Christmas will be fun for you too i'm sure:)
Your pastel is great!

7:22 PM  
Blogger jennifer said...

hi ed!
first, i just want to say i'm sorry that new mexico didn't work out for you and that it's cold and gray now. i don't miss that at all - lol - i grew up in buffalo, ny.....

but i also want to say - your post is very inspiring!! and your grandchld is a doll :)
i wish you the best during this holiday season!! :)

your friend, jen neubauer

12:31 AM  

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