First, I am a truth-seeker and a nonreligious, nonsectarian Christian. He is the divine creator and artist of all things – none better. Beyond that, what has and what continues to occupy my life is my family. I’ve been married for 43 years. We’ve been up and down a lot of roads, some joyful – some scary – some both at the same time. After all, we’ve raised five children together and parenting is the extremest of all Extreme Sports.
Ruth is the oldest and she is the quintessential first child; perfectionist, critical, fierce and enormously intelligent, melancholy and socially just a little awkward. She runs a summer youth program for the Center For Talent Development at Northwestern University and . . . . she is amazing.
Next is Miriam. She is my inspiration for so many things. Being an artist/photographer herself, she has encouraged me the most to paint again. I have used her photographs for several of my paintings.
Two summers ago, in September, Miriam called all of the siblings into town. They sent me away to the Bird Sanctuary with the Grandkids and while I was gone, together they planted 700 tulip
bulbs in my rock garden so that they would come up for Mother’s Day and my Birthday. They covered their tracks so that I would not know. During the year, on various occasions, hints were given; a tulip vase and a sketch book and pencils and a “how to paint botanicals” for Christmas etc. But, I never caught on. Come spring this happened: It was a complete surprise. Miriam is Media Producer and photographer for Rotary International. She and her husband Kristen are the parents of my youngest Grandsons, who are 4 and 2 years old. Miriam is committed to positive journalism in her documentation of projects in some of what we consider to be the most dangerous places on the planet. Follow her on Instagram @lowandlush.
Next is my son, John Daniel. Daniel and his wife, Jenny, work in the food and beverage industry and also real estate on the side. Daniel’s son is my oldest Grandson. Henry is 9 and together with his dad and Jenny they enjoy an active outdoor life of fishing, hunting, golfing, baseball etc. I couldn’t be prouder of this young man who has overcome incredible challenges and has become a wonderful husband and father.
Abigail was the youngest daughter for many years. She is a massage therapist and colon hydro-therapist at Karyn’s in Chicago. She is beautiful and exotic, LOVES to travel. She spent her last summer in Croatia working in a Hostel in Pula owned by friends. She worked as cook, customer relations, tour guide and all round peace maker! Abigail is one of the kindest, most loving people I know and she loves to show that with food. She is a foody extraordinaire, quirky and delightful.
Abigail was the youngest until Hannah Grace happened when I was 40 and shopping for colleges for my oldest. My baby girl was born when I was 41. She was not in our plan but was obviously in the mind of the Creator. She has kept me young and has allowed me the delightful experience of having an “only.” She is beautiful and talented. Together we were involved with 4H, riding horses and performing with a drill team. She was involved with musical theater throughout high school and performed in Hello Dolly, HONK!, and Titanic the Musical. Her senior year, she did a breathtaking performance of Annie in Annie Get Your Gun and was awarded DAA scholarships from several universities. She recently graduated from college, has married and moved away to start a new adventure of offering ABA counseling to autistic children.
And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 41 years. Until Hannah turned 20, I had gone 25 straight years with teenagers living under my roof. It was a long exciting run. It is who I am. The three youngest were home schooled. Dan and Abigail chose public school during their high school careers and Hannah chose to home school in order to pursue music theater. During this time I also worked part time as a teacher and tutor. I was a part of building the first online, distance learning high school, Regina Coeli Adademy starting in 1995 under the name Institute for the Study and Liberal Arts and Sciences “ISLAS”. Several years ago, after they were bought by Thomas Moore College, I saw the writing on the wall as everyone, including public schools, started offering this service online paid for by your tax dollars. Well sorta. A virtual classroom is much different from what the public schools offer. But that’s another story. I still teach Spanish for the local home school academy and for a local private school as well.
Years ago I wrote an essay for a gardening magazine called Memorial Garden. This is an excerpt:
“I am an artist at heart. Years ago, before the births of my five beautiful children, I even painted a few landscapes and told myself I could probably really pursue this as a career. But, once there were children scurrying about, the frustration of keeping the little fingers out of the paint and the expensive paint brushes out of the sand and toy boxes, rapidly struck the resounding chord of reality and I took up other artistic endeavors such as cross-stitch and embroidery, French-braiding fine golden hair, sewing frilly pink ballet costumes and later prom dresses. Investing my artistic energy and passion in my children, they became my jewels, my gems, my precious stones, my most valued canvases of fine art.”
And now here we are. All the children are grown and gone and although they and their children are still a very large part of my life, I now have time to pursue this other thing – painting. And . . . I am surprising myself. I really had no idea I could paint the things I am painting now. So we will see where this ends up. You can read about how I got started again under the Ruth post/page. The first painting I did after almost 25 years.
Oh and here’s an image of the last full-sized painting I did – 1985/86 . One of maybe four or five. And here’s the questions. How did I get better – because this is rather bad and I think some of my recent stuff is much better – over the last 25 years having not done any painting – at all?