There are people that are always giving. The kind of person who stops what they are doing and very gently focuses all their attention on you, because, you are there, and obviously important. That kind of full service attention is special and rare. It is expressively loving. These people are always curious. Flowers are always beautiful and time worthy, the birds, even a common finch, is interesting. A book arouses their interest and they begin to read it… right now. A restaurant, a new local discovery and adventure or faraway travels are compelling too. These people are open about their experiences; ugly, dark, complex, beautiful and true and they are kind with how they give these stories to you and for you because our stories really are our gifts to people. They practice compassion, not perfection, to self and others.
The world is lucky for the many people here like this.
I had a person like this in my life at a pivotal time. She was a lovely neighbor and my first close friend outside of my generation. A grandmother to my daughter’s best friend and old enough to be my own mother, but a far different history than mine. She had an artist soul, loved nature, worked steadily for the environment and loved her family so gently it felt fierce. I admired her character and her spirit. She aged well and unlike many, she wizened as she aged.
Then she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and slowly moved more inward, not less kind or compassionate, but her fight and temperament made her more intimate about how she shared herself. Death is a burden to all who love the dying, and the dying feel this, heavily.
She loved that we were moving to Costa Rica. When we came back last Spring, I saw her briefly and she was kind though withdrawn and tired. Then last August she died with her family nearby. I heard the news from Guatemala at the time, and cried a few times. I learned that death makes me homesick. Shortly afterwards, I booked tickets for us to visit Seattle in December and here we are still, happily.
I had the opportunity to stay in her house for a weekend recently and at first I resented the memory of her. It made me sad and restless. I felt like I didn’t belong there. Then I let it wash over me. Her house is so full of her spirit. The art on the walls, the books, the office space and the magnificent garden are all whispers of her. I want to be a 70 year old like her.
Her partner encouraged me to go through her art supplies and take what I wanted. She would have wanted someone to have them who loved art as much as she did. I do not know if I loved art as much as she did. Really. But I am honored and humbled to have her art supplies now. I will be lucky if I walk a similar path as her legacy. I will think of her with love as I paint.