Sunday, March 9, 2014

Good Morning Jacob...

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 9 March

I think I can . . .

Good Morning Jacob…

Life is often experienced with powerful emotions pulling you in one direction, then another, when you are a young artist.  You rarely pause long enough to appreciate knowing a middle ground.  You love intensely.  You hate bitterly.  You fall for beauty.  You face, stupefied, the bleak.  And since you are an artist you attempt to depict it all, in your own fashion.  There’s the glimmer of sun peering beneath the window shade drawn tightly down.  The room is smudged in unsettled blue.  The door is the color of a promise – soon it will open and she will be there.  In pictures of the heart, promises need not be kept.  I’m glad you are an artist but life is a precarious moth swooning round the candle flame. 

I’m drawing on my own ambivalence to create a picture headed nowhere.  That’s the theme:  ambivalence – intensely contrasting.  How does mine hold up to expression?  What degree of passion is revealed?  What imagery from life will be depicted and in what fashion?  What sort of caring results from my own ambivalence about most everything?

It was a cold rain for Friday’s funeral.  Lewis was the man next door.  He had a small, ink black dog with big bug eyes and incredibly long thin legs.  She looked like a whimsical character out of an old Betty Boop cartoon.  She found my very presence anywhere in her vicinity annoying and she would always come yapping after me.  Lewis would yell, “Miss Dale!” to call her off.  Lewis kept his red Ford Ranger pickup clean and usually parked it facing the street under his carport.  He had worked at least the last ten years at Sam’s Club when he died.  There was a stunning splash of flowers atop his casket when I went to see him at Whitley’s Funeral Home.  The suit he wore was perfectly tailored and he had the appearance of a highly regarded member of the business community.  His nails were expertly manicured and placed in lasting repose.  He looked dignified but gracious.  His wife, Kay, had slipped a small toy car, precisely centered, in the breast pocket of his suit jacket.  It had the number 3 on the car’s doors… the number of Kannapolis, North Carolina’s home town hero – Dale Earnhardt.  Lewis was a lifelong NASCAR fan and he was always true to Dale and his son, Junior – number ‘88’.  The toy car was the one thing his wife chose for him to take with him to his grave.

The skies cleared the following day, Saturday, and temperatures rose into the sixties.  Birds everywhere made their appearance.  Maybe they sense the onset of spring.  The flocks of robin have been breaking off into couples and disappearing into the surrounding trees and brush.  The male cardinals are all dressed up in stunning new vermilion feathers to dazzle the local females.  Soon the ladies will be working dawn to dusk gathering material to build a nest, laying eggs, protecting their eggs, hatching them and then flying about the landscape gathering food for incessantly demanding youngsters, mouth wide agape and squawking.  Such is the price paid for giving in to the male’s display of love. 

I think I see bits of green breaking the ground into sunlight here and there.  A Carolina Wren searches eagerly for its first meal of insects, the precocious ones that will hatch and bravely step forward.  High up in the still bare branches of trees are large clumps of nesting material where soon the squirrels will give rise to another generation of families.  It will be sunny and clear once again today and I am set, ticket holder for a new season of theater brought to life by the lengthening days and renewed warmth of an ever climbing sun.


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