Many events happen over the course of a lifetime, and while you can remember them and they shape your life somehow, over time they become a little vague. You might not exactly remember when these things happened or why you were there. They are without much context or significance despite your occasional recollection. You may wonder aloud “When did we paint the hallway that awful yellow color? We need to repaint.” You remember having a fabulous meal at that new restaurant in town and you’d definitely go back, even though you don’t remember what you ate.
Then there are those events that are so indelibly and clearly fixed in your memory that you feel consciously altered by them, perhaps other people you know are also affected and life as you once knew it is forever changed. I think of these as before and after markers in life, as both you and your life now feel different. Maybe even your world view has been adjusted.
Those events can be wonderful and exciting experiences: Leaving home to go to college. Backpacking through Europe. Meeting the man who would become my husband. Our first date. (Best first date ever.) The moment I found out I was pregnant with our son, as well as the day he was born. Sometimes they’ve been scary and sad: 9/11.
I didn’t know it at this time last year, but 2014 would become a before and after marker for me, a year long shifting of things and a series of events that culminated in my father’s passing away on October 8th, 2014. Now is a new “after” for me.
My intention with this blog is to share how my work and my life intersect – to discuss the back stories behind projects or the inspiration for new art. I’ve struggled for the past few months with no energy to write or not clearly knowing what to write about. Several design projects were started since last summer, yet remained incomplete with not much to show or discuss. I also felt strange just “jumping back in” starting to write again without noting the major change that had taken place. As if nothing had happened.
I’m noting it now.
I now inhabit a world where my father no longer lives and I miss him. Pretty much everyone faces this kind of loss at some point I realize, and I’ve come to feel incredibly lucky and grateful that I’ve experienced it so rarely and that I had my dad for so long. He lived a relatively long and healthy life. I learned so much from him, even though he was not at all what I’d describe as a “talker” or even the most patient of teachers. He was quiet and came across as rather serious, and when he did talk he was succinct. (I obviously did not inherit that trait!) Those close to him also knew he had a good sense of humor and irony. He always appreciated hearing a funny story, enjoyed a good laugh and possessed surprisingly good timing for sharing a pithy, usually humorous observation. I can recall many of his wry observations about me when I was growing up. I didn’t always appreciate them at the time, but I do now, especially as a parent myself.
When we went through all the family photos, finding ones to share at his funeral, I realized that he looked genuinely happy in every single photograph, from his early childhood throughout his life. Of course people usually smile in photos, but this was markedly different. He was never the “class clown” or the “life of the party” type of guy, but in every image he seemed relaxed, content and happy. I could actually feel it, and I find that his happiness with life inspires me now. One of his friends described him as authentic. Hearing that and other stories our family and friends shared about him also inspire me. No whining. No regrets. No self-pity. No cynicism. No B.S. (B.S. is definitely a term he would have used.) And by keeping those thoughts in mind, I’ve been able to move forward, trudging slowly at first but now “jumping back in” getting up to full speed, tying up loose ends on unfinished projects, beginning new designs and planning to write about it all. And looking forward to it all. Thanks for everything, Dad. I love you.