One of the key components to being resilient, happy, and living a long life is having meaningful connections with loved ones.
I lost my dad about three years ago around Labor Day. I lost my Aunt Lillian the following weekend. My Aunt Jan would pass the following May. Last November I lost one of my dearest art mentors and friends, Jan Wright.
This season of my life seems to be one of loss but also one of reflection and gratitude. These are people that contributed to my life in meaningful moments. First my dad, was a very present affectionate dad. We were buddies. He taught me how to ride a horse, how to watch storms from the garage, and how to enjoy flowers. He loved bright red gladiolas the best. This week I brought a bunch of gladiolas to my students and hopefully they will grow up with happy memories about these flowers, too. He went into the army and wanted to be a tough guy. But the man I loved, loved children, poetry, music, and to shop the seed catalog in winter to prepare to plant flowers in spring. He was a gentle man with a big heart. The sum of the meaningful moments with my dad are impossible to count. He made most moments with him count to be precious. How many people can say that about their dad? I was really fortunate.
My Aunt Lillian, Aunt Lil, was a woman who was widowed twice. She had a little brick home in Evansville, Indiana, with a brick paved sidewalk that led to a cute brick garage that matched. There was a shower in that garage that I used. I remember her garden, her chicken and dumplings, her fried chicken, her ham and scalloped potatoes, and a screened patio full of puzzles and games like Chinese Checkers. She had a cookie tin of crayons. I remember being welcomed, well-fed, and I admired her neat little house and the simple beauty of her life.
My Aunt Jan, was credited for being the oldest sibling and boldly asked to go to college. My grandma said they couldn’t afford it, but my grand dad moved heaven and earth to make it happen for her and for her two younger sisters. I remember our talks about her son who was having many troubles, her grand kids, and all of the times I felt stuck that she would not let me quit. She was honored as a teacher by the state of Illinois. During the summers she would bring the grand kids to Fountain Park, my Aunt Barb would do the same, and I would come with my Mackenzie, and we made the most beautiful memories in that place with these wonderful children. My mom, my Uncle Kenny, and their sister Aunt Barb and Aunt Jan would gather on the hotel porch for to celebrate Jan’s birthday with Angel Food cake, the traditional cake to celebrate birthdays. When I graduated with my Masters Degree in 2005, I assumed Jan and Barb had done that already. I was surprised when they told me I was the first to do that. I look at those kids that vacationed with us over the summers and know we are going to see greater things from them than we can imagine. I am glad that I got to be part of their stories with these matriarchs.
Finally, my friend Jan Wright, came to me through the Fountain Park Art Colony. She initially coached me in my water color work, but over the 20 plus years we painted together her influences on my art and life choices are too many to count. She knew the art of being in the moment. She put her heart into her flower arrangements for funerals and weddings, her work in the Cover Lafayette project to provide blankets for needy families, and in those quiet moments in the art colony where we would paint side by side and whisper the stories of our year, our joys and sorrows. We would ponder our questions and tell how our stories were in our art.
As a coach, I try to help people be awake in their life. As a society were are busy and frazzled and seem to praise people that live over scheduled frantic existences. Who are your most important people right now? Have you given them some time lately? Make some connections today with people that matter. Those moments are the making of a meaningful and joyful life.
If you want help in connecting with loved ones better, I am doing Creative Discovery Sessions for $125. Schedule an appointment with me. We will make the plan, and I can help you work the plan. Life is short, and I hope you will make it count.