Emotional painter

I just love to paint.  I wish I didn’t have to charge, but I have to find a way to pay Jerry’s medical bills.  If I didn’t need the income, I’d paint for free.  It would be my gift....a privilege to share.  Right now,  I find myself in the  middle of some pretty emotional paintings.  Don’t know why I am asked to paint these scenarios.  I certainly don’t have the monopoly on the corner of sadness. In fact, I am at peace and have so much to be thankful for. Shadow is finished.  He is the precious family dog, who is twelve years old and now has cataracts.  He, clearly, is getting on in years and I’ve been asked to paint him.   However, it is much more than painting the family dog.  The husband of the family, has just place his mother in an assisted living facility for people with memory loss.  The doggie family member is just an emotional extension of losing the mother.  It’s a way of processing loss , a passage in this thing called “life”.


I also am painting a beautifully peaceful ocean scene of the family summer place where everyone would gather for summers on the beach.  The mother of the family, too, has Alzheimer disease and has been placed in an adult daycare.  This painting is a gift from the daughter to the father of the summer place that holds such dear memories.


I am thoroughly enjoying painting these scenes.  Whether it is the beloved family pet or the family memories......I can feel the attachment.  I am honored to be asked to paint the memories that these families hold so dear.


I brought Jerry home yesterday.  It was the first time in over a year.  It was a trial run for when my daughters come down.  I know they want to see their dad, but it is difficult with 5 grandboys.  I know they want their boys to know their granddad.  But, truth be told, it is not going to happen for the boys.  There is a remote possibility for my girls to still connect.....it will take time and silence, however, with very little return at best.


Jerry’s visit home, yesterday, was so surreal.  He definitely recognized that he had been here before.  However, there was no emotional connection.  I would watch as he walked on the deck, overlooking the pond.  He stood there....looking down.  I wondered what was going through his mind.  It was as if he was checking things out.  He also looked at the stack of bills on the table, as if he was wondering if I was doing a good job.  I don’t know. He walked over to the table next to the sofa.  He picked up a piece of paper.  I wonder if he recognized that this was home.   I sat him on the sofa and turned on football.  He was not interested.  He was disconnected to everything.  Yet, comfortable.


Physically, I noticed that he was not stable on his feet. He had an “accident” and had to take a shower.  He was totally detached as I bathed him.   Several times he lost his footing going down the steps.  Yet, when we went down the stairs to head toward the car, he was surefooted.  I kept saying, “Hold on to the rail.  Hold on to the rail.”  He didn’t.  He “surely" headed straight to the car.

I am puzzled by the visit.  I think he knew where he was.  I think he knew who I was.  I think he was secure and comfortable.  But, I don’t think there was a connection.  I can’t quite figure it out.  I suppose I should quit trying to figure it out.


All I know, is that on the drive back, he said with resolve, “I love you.”

I’m confused.  Guess I’d better get back to painting.