Monday, October 17, 2011

Bye-Bye, Birdman

From the Mother's Day card Charlie made me this year.

Late last night I was drawing... just, you know, skating pencil across paper, seeing what would appear. Having a lovely time, I was, especially when I saw what shapes were emerging. I laughed. I really liked my drawing. It was funny and had a bird dude and it was different to anything I’d ever done.

“Eureka!” I said aloud. And right then I thought of my friend Charlie and knew he’d get a huge kick out of it. I would have to send him a copy when it was done.

Like me, Charlie loves birds and he draws them all the time, quirky birds with personality. For a few years I happily drove a car covered in his bird images: birds skating, birds dancing, birds snoozing, birds falling in love. 

We both really like art. Charlie is a pioneer in the art world. We hit it off the first time we met, and have walked and talked creativity ever since. We’ll take drives out into the countryside and stop by the road to draw something random that takes our fancy. He finds his own perspective, and doesn’t crowd me as I work. He gets that I don’t like someone looking over my shoulder. He understands all about being encouraging but non-effusive. He chuckles a lot. I make him chuckle. We draw together well. 

When, as a widower, he married his wonderful Ginny, he reaffirmed to me that real love and happiness can come at any age. They defined the power of long, true friendship and hope. They are a life-affirming, do-it-all couple who make you want to do it all, too.  

So Charlie and I have gone to various galleries, sharing awe and ideas and the occasional snide comment.Once he took me to the canvas-cluttered Providence studio of his landscape artist friend whose macular degeneration had made him legally blind. This man had to stand nose to vast canvas in order to see light and shade, and yet his landscapes were powerful, rich with subtle shifts in color and light. I saw there are no limits, if you have the will. 

Until Charlie first took me there, I had only vaguely heard of RISD. In his usual, slow, subtle way Charlie suggested it might be a place for me. He kept reminding me and taking me round there until I finally heard him. Over the years he's seen me become a student there and soon after, Continuing Education Faculty. He just smiled and made some wry observation as usual. I grinned. He chuckled. I knew he was proud of me. He knew he’d shown me a whole new world of possibility. Charlie knows how to handle me. I know how to jolly him round a bit. We're buddies that "get" each other.  

Unbeknownst to me, Charlie began a journey yesterday. And early this morning, right about the time I woke, my dear mentor and birdman buddy took flight. But it’s startlingly easy to believe he hovered nearby last night as I drew my quirky bird dude, making slow, subtle suggestions until I heard him, and bursting into belly laughter as I had my Eureka moment. Just as he always does. 

1 comment:

  1. How sad it is to loose a friend and mentor...there are not many people who have such a positive effect on us throughout life, that we can afford to loose even one of them.
    The 'nay-sayers' and destroyers abound, and we need all the positive input we can get to sustain us on our painful but illuminating creative journey.

    So when one of these bright stars of our personal world suddenly leaves us there is a void and great sadness, but we have wonderful memories to fall back on in our dark moments; times of laughter and companionship, an understanding and sharing which needed no words to explain it just WAS.

    Far worse the trusted friend with whom you have shared secrets, and whom you find has been betraying you and laughing about you behind your back...then the memories flay you for your own foolishness and lack of guile in not seeing what was before you all the time, if you had only been less blinkered.

    So it is time to glory in the memories of a truly lovely person whose every contact with you was an opportunity learn and grow, whose every influence was leading you towards enlightenment and enlargement of the encourage you even further along the path of awareness and kindness to 'all creatures great and small'.

    Charlie will stay here for you always if you let him, all you need do is think of him.

    I love daughter in the world, Mutti.