| 08 October, 2013 11:05
My Dad. My Dad was an artist from his earliest days. We have beautiful drawings that he did at the age of nine. He wanted to go into commercial art or maybe even men’s fashion design. He eventually went to Syracuse University to major in art but World War II put a crimp in his plans. He left after two years and was drafted into the Army. When he came home from fighting in France, he married my Mom and tried to get into the commercial art field. It was a difficult field in which to find some financial success and soon my brother was on the way and the growing family needed more money than Dad’s passion could provide. Dad went back to working in the field of electrical power which he had done somewhat before the war and in the Army. He found financial and personal success there and would eventually retire from that career.
Here’s the part that I and my siblings never understood: He gave up his art completely. No dabbling. No painting as a hobby. No getting back into art in retirement. Cold turkey. Over. Done. Why? That has always been the big question for me. As a child he would occasionally help me with my drawings and even asked me at one point if I wanted to follow in his footsteps and go to Syracuse and major in art. Not to be as my parents, children of the Great Depression, saw the need to study subjects that guaranteed solid employment.
Skip to the end of my father’s life. He went into a hospice facility for a few months before he passed. My brother and his wife who lived nearby the facility did something that proved to be extraordinary. They took about a half a dozen of Dad’s large paintings and placed them on easels in his room. The room became his gallery. Visitors and other patients came in to admire his work and talk to him about it. I think it gave him joy and perhaps it was a little bittersweet.
Here is what inspires me to keep going. My Dad made a huge sacrifice to provide for his family and it took me quite a while to fully appreciate what he gave up. He summed it up for me when one day in his hospice "gallery" he said to my brother, "You'll never know what it is like to give up the most important thing in your life, but now I am going to die as who I really am. I am an artist."
That's what keeps me going. Thanks, Dad.