“From Here To Eternity” 18″ X 24″ Acrylic on Canvas
In my mind’s eye, I can see the eastern horizon off Oahu. Molokai, Lanai and the upper reaches of Haleakala on Maui somewhere below the rising sun. In my mind’s eye, I can see a Humpback’s breach or the glistening skin of a Dolphin as it stitches it’s way across the fabric of the Sea. In my mind’s eye, I can feel the refreshing breeze, I can smell the salt laced air and I can hear the crashing waves as they meet the rocky shores.
Hundred’s of times, I have driven past the very beach that was used for the passionate love scene in the 1953 movie “From Here to Eternity”. It is located along the Kalanianaole (Kal) Highway on Oahu’s eastern shore. Halona Beach Cove sits just on the other side of the guard rail of this winding stretch of pavement. The image that is etched in my mind is the one seen only in the fleeting glances from the drivers seat of a vehicle. For me, the sensory euphoria that dwells here is best captured in a photograph of the mind then painted on canvas, no reference material is necessary or desired.
My Dad Loved Colorado. He taught me that taking the time to experience all that is has to offer is well worth the effort. He of all people, knew that the greatest adventures are waiting in your own backyard but as he grew older he realized that his backyard was the entire world. For 20 years, my folks called Hawaii home and I was so fortunate to be able to appreciate all of the little things that make it special. I produced and dedicated this video to my Father on his 80th Birthday so he could see and feel what he could no longer do as the grip of Parkinson’s disease progressed. I hope you take this five minute holiday..who knows, it may make your backyard bigger as well.
My Son Lucas with his new “Van Gogh” 🙂
A couple of weeks ago, my son Lucas stopped by for a visit. I was showing him some of my new work when he spotted an intuitive palette knife painting that I had completed as the first in a series several months back. A sketch if you will of three big rocks in a mountain lake. “I love that one”, he said while diverting his attention from my new work. I asked him why he liked it and he said “because it looks like a Van Gogh”. Hmmm, how could this unnamed, unsigned practice sketch be appreciated by him when I didn’t recognize the value in it? Perhaps it was the three rocks, or the three peaks, or perhaps it was that I completed in in only three hours.
With the exception of today, each Sunday for the past year and a half I have been my Father’s Caregiver. His passing Last Tuesday leaves me feeling so empty this morning. There are so many things I will miss. His favorite tv show was CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, he never missed it. Last week, there was a story on the “Happy Song Guy” Pharrell Williams that made Dad smile and triggered memories of like minded singers from his day.
Of all of the rituals and Routines with my Father, the thing that I will miss most is the way that he counted to three. Before every transfer to and from his bed, the wheel chair, the Lazy Boy, etc…he would count down saying “one da da, two da da, three da da”. As you can imagine it was a little embarrassing at first when he did this in public but it always put a smile in my heart to hear it. My Dad needed a lot of magic to cope with the difficulties of having Parkinson’s, the “dada’s” I believe, helped him find it.
The Power Of Three
Monday Evening, I sat at the bedside of my Dad making small talk of life, both of us trying to ignore the gravity of his condition. He had several strokes in the previous 48 hours, ultimately the collateral damage of Parkinson’s Disease. I said “hey Dad, Robin Williams Passed away today, he was only 63”. Dad said it seemed that everyone was dying lately then he said “I’m 83”, wanting to make sure I knew that. As it turned out, Dad followed Robin across the threshold to the next life by just one day. Tuesday evening while processing the shock of my loss, I learned that Lauren Bacall may have walked shoulder to shoulder into the next world with my own Father.
Lauren Bacall was 89 and died shortly after having a stroke. Her Screen Persona was likely not all that different from her true character, a classy, independent and caring spirit, Just like my Dad.
My Dad loved Robin Williams and would have been so interested to know that Robin also suffered from PD, but that news didn’t come out until yesterday. Dad always gained inspiration from those who also had PD. Michael J. Fox, Mohamad Ali, Linda Ronstadt among the famous.
This morning I am touched to read these words from Robin’s Daughter Zelda. “Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls Ive ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. Well just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again”.
To Zelda I would say that I understand that my Father Knew how difficult those early stages of PD were, how difficult it was to accept the diagnosis. I would tell her that I can see a lot of my Father in Robin’s eyes. I would tell her that she should be proud of him for coping with his diagnosis and symptoms so courageously and in his own way and in his own time, just as my own Father did. I would thank her for her for giving me words to express what I feel at this moment.
Mom and Dad in 2011. Even the Early Stages of PD took a toll
“The Enduring Glow Of A Beautiful Life”
10″ x 20″ Acrylic on canvas
Monday evening, as I drove home I witnessed the most incredible sunset. A glowing orange and yellow sky over the latent silhouette of the front range. Too much traffic and visual obstruction to pull over and take a photo, I captured the image in my mind instead. I had just left my folks at the Denver Hospice Care Center at Lowry where my Dad would undergo a procedure the next morning that would make him more comfortable as he suffered from the later stages of Parkinson’s Disease. Before I said goodnight to my Father for the last time, we talked about how beautiful the facility was and I told him that Robin Williams had passed away (he loved Robin Williams). One of the night nurses graciously brought them a tuna fish sandwich to share even though they had “checked in” too late for dinner and after I left I understand that Dad ate most of it.
Oh how much it hurts to loose someone you Love so much. The grief might even cause a person to jump out of bed, start and finish a painting as the sun rises, which is exactly what I did this morning. I am compelled to paint my Father’s setting sun and this small sketch will be used for a piece that is 20 times larger. I want this memory to be larger than life.
Me with my mind’s image
Mom, Dad, Tammy(took pic) and Me at the Denver Art Museum three weeks ago
A Sunday at Denver’s Museum of History and Science (8/3/14)
My lengthy hiatus from this effort (my blogs) is attributed significantly to the long, long path that I was able to walk alongside my Father and Mother while in the Autumn of Dad’s life. For seven years, they had to endure difficult circumstances, one after another, all somehow related to the harm that Parkinson’s Disease can inflict. Yesterday Afternoon, Dad crossed over from this life to the next. It was the first completely cloudless day in Denver in as long as I can remember and he left this world so peacefully, so quickly that I am profoundly moved. For so long, I have wanted to write and be read; I have wanted to share the experiences that I have had in my own personal walk as an Artist and as a Son. Yet for so long, these experiences belonged in my heart and not on published pages.
My Father’s passing comes like the opening of a flood gate. I am ready to share once again and I hope to somehow kindle a flame of inspiration if even in just one person.
Even on his death bed, it would not have shocked me if my Father had awakened from his final sleep to recite word for word the following quote by William Shakespeare. “Cowards die many deaths, The Valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” Seriously, the man had a knack for reciting poetry and singing funny songs at the most inappropriate times. This time, he did not awaken from his slumber but his words are still with me.
Before I close this post, I want to share a few thoughts about Denver Hospice. Yesterday morning, before I understood that it would be Dad’s final sunrise, I wrote the following words. Mom and Dad finally found their way back to the “Hilton”. The Denver Hospice Inpatient Care Center at Lowry Field is a living masterpiece. Oddly, the kind of place that makes you want to live. As my Dad would say, it is a “castle on the hillside”. In some ways you might think that such a place would be cruel and unusual punishment for those who find themselves at the exit door of life. Not So, I say! The architectural marvel is more than matched by the compassion, dignity and understanding that permeates from its walls. The halls echo in celebration of all that is good in Mankind. For me personally, this place is an inspiration. The Exhibition of artwork on display is incredible. Much care was given to select original works that might trigger a warm memory; that might remind one how precious life is. And then the admirable culture that dwells in the care center goes completely over the top. So different than what you will find in a hospital, where the goal is physical healing and profit. Denver Hospice defines success much differently, to create comfort for the body and the spirit. Perhaps the ultimate goal of Hospice is to mirror what we hope for on the other side of death. These are the things that have touched me profoundly, that have nudged the trajectory of my life in the most beautiful way.
One of the beautiful paintings that hangs in the Denver Hospice Care Center at Lowry