I'd much rather read than write so it's not much of a blog...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Revelation



My grandfather gave this watercolor to my grandmother on their 10th wedding anniversary. It became part of my life when I was little and visited my grandparents in Lakewood. In the past twelve years I made sure it stayed with my mother through her various moves but when I visited after my brother moved her last year I found the painting had been stuck behind a dresser. I pulled it out, cleaned it up and put it on the wall.

The morning before I left on my last visit I asked my brother if he wanted any of the artwork hanging on the walls. He looked around and finally said he'd like to have the cardinal, a print that my mother never really liked, that I kept moving with her just because it fit in anywhere, filled a space on a wall.

I told him I was taking the watercolor. I reminded him of its history but he didn't shown any sign of recognition, didn't seem remotely interested in its significance.

I've known it for some time but somehow that last conversation with my brother made it final; it was probably the last time we see each other. There is no longer anything binding us.

The most remarkable thing though, about this painting is that it now binds me more strongly to people who have died.

I thought my mother had had the watercolor reframed at some point but when I took it to my framer and we began to disassemble it, it seemed clear to both of us that we were removing the original framing. We worked on it face down and when it was free the framer lifted the bare painting to face me.

It was such a revelation I cried. Over the years there had been so much ghosting and discoloration of the old glass that much of the painting's beauty was hard to see. The color and detail that I saw that day at the framer's was breathtaking. For the first time I could remember, I saw what my grandfather saw when he bought the painting and what my grandmother saw when he gave it to her.