Dad, 1940's

Dad, 1940's

"I am about to do something new,
Even now it shall come to pass,
Suddenly you shall perceive it:
I will make a road through the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."
(Isaiah 43:19)

Returned yesterday from a final trip to Calgary... to pack up Dad's things, clean a house that he and Mom shared for almost 30 years, and bring him with us to the coast, where he is spending his first day in a senior's care home.  In the process of cleaning, there were boxes and boxes of photos to go through, and a pile of memories to sift, ponder, and revisit.  It was difficult to say the least, sometimes emotional, always cathartic.

Looking through Dad's history in these pictures, and comparing them to the man he is now... old, frail, angry, confused, and childlike... I have been wondering, who is the true person?  What is the core of who he really is?  And is there any knowing the heart of the man?

Dad, 1954

Dad, 1954

Tentative thoughts tell me that he was and is, on some level, all his different manifestations, and yet none of them.  He is, and we are, what we allow ourselves to become.  The shape of our character is determined by how much we let either fear or trust lead the way. As I see Dad settling into a life that is now largely against his will, the man who always sought control finds himself in a place where he has no control at all.  Yet, despite the reality of his present anger, walking through his life in pictures this week made it possible to see the father I knew and the father I didn't know.

So what does this have to do with my art?  As I see my own life taking turns I didn't expect or anticipate, some welcomed and others not, I realize I have two choices:  to be led by fear or be led by trust.  Even as I settle into a new home on the coast and come before the paints and canvas, I must trust the voice within and trust the work to show the way. The work is calling for a new freedom, a challenge to step out of the comfort zone, a step into a creative new way, and a deeper intimacy that calls for more honesty, more revelation.  Greater trust and less fear.

As I watch my father spend the last part of his life in the way that he does, I am reminded of the person, the woman, and the artist, I want to be: one who is always learning, growing and discovering. And may my art always be an evolving evidence of that journey.  

Dad and me, 1984

Dad and me, 1984

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