Thursday, October 30, 2008


I think you have already heard me say, more than once, how wonderful our neighbors are. This has been particularly true since Katie was diagnosed with cancer; her illness drew us closer together. The gift of those friendships continues. I am going to tell you a story here that illustrates this in an amazing way.

We have a neighbor-couple who are artists: Maureen is a painter who is very talented at mosaics, too; Martin is a fantastic photographer. For example, one day in the summer of 2005, Martin took a group of candid photos of our kids. Katie and David were playing on the beach, when Martin and Maureen's dogs, Buddy and Louie, joined the kids. Here are a few of the shots that he took:

When Katie became sick, Maureen was deeply moved. She painted a very powerful piece that was hanging in a show for months (the show's title was "Mood Swings"), and it blew me away with its passion, grief, depth and ability to evoke emotion. There was a lot of response to the piece when it was in the show. Maureen offered the painting to us as a gift. That's right; I said a gift.

As a woman who majored in fine art in college, I know how much effort goes into a painting. I also know that it's not easy to make a living for some artists (it was impossible for me). So when a working artist creates a piece, it's important if she is able to sell it. Maureen could have sold any of these paintings, but she was offering this one to us as a present.

We were stunned and overwhelmed by the generosity of Maureen's generous offer. I also knew that the painting was so incredibly powerful in the depth of its expression of grief that I wouldn't be able to coexist with it. I did the best I could to gently and courteously convey my appreciation for her offer, and my compliments -- that the piece was so well done that it was too evocative of grief, for me.

Maureen was gracious and understanding. Then she offered us a different piece from the same show, and one that I love very much: it's called Celebration. These photos do not do it full justice at all, but they are the best I can do (there is more color saturation & differentiation in the real thing than you can see here).
Celebration is roughly 3 feet wide by 4 feet tall. I feel that it captures a bit of Katie's spirit and energy, her passion for life, her irrepressible confidence, joie de vivre and her spirit's movement. It is now hanging in the entry to our home.
Thank you, Maureen!


BusyBeeSuz said...

Karen, I clicked and looked at each of the pictures of the kids at the beach. Wow. Those shots evoke so much for me. The kids are so happy to be. Just being.
Such great shots for you to have and cherish.
The painting is lovely. I love the colors and the feeling of joy in it. Thank you so much for sharing.
You seem surrounded by wonderful people. I love that about you.

Amy said...

My goodness those are gorgeous pieces! I know that you cherish those pieces as they hold many memories! What a truly amazing gift! What fun to look at them!!!

Amy said...

oh, and the pictures on the beach...captures some great facial expressions...what a treasure to hold onto!

amanda said...

How lucky to have found such supportive friends that have offered so much. Those pictures at the beach are wonderful! The painting is awesome, in every sense of the word, and really is a wonderful tribute to the way you celebrate Katie's life each and every day.

Karla W. said...