I painted this portrait of Grace and her Dad. She was 11. She passed away this week. She had been suffering from Crohn’s disease. Her dad, Charles (Chuck) is my good friend. He was the best Dad he could be. I know this for certain.
I can hardly bear to think of what this must feel like, and I prayed for strength as I sat with my friend as he told me the story of Grace’s passing.
Tuesday, he stopped by the house with his girlfriend, Mandi. I could see the pain in his eyes, but he spoke and moved with grace as he recounted her death. In his hands, he clenched the torn pages from Grace’s sketchbook. The pages revealed, a self portrait and a portrait of her Daddy. I lovingly looked at them. He told me about how much she loved to draw and knit. (She was working on a pair of gloves for him but never finished.) She learned many techniques for drawing and knitting from watching and studying “You Tube” videos.
He referred back to the painting and he pointed to her name written sideways next to the portrait and said,”I told her she is going to need to get used to signing her work”.
He made sure she had supplies and even bought her an easel. He once brought her to my art class where she created a tile that became a permanent part of the museum. He told me that he wanted to have the paintings framed, but just lost track of time.
And that is what I did for him. I framed her paintings for him. I felt like the pieces should be preserved “as is” with the sketchbook perforation intact. I think the reclaimed wood frames felt right for this project. Grace loved art. Her Dad said, “many times, art is all she had”.
I painted something from my heart for Chuck. I painted little artist Grace, with Michelangelo wings. I painted her a box of knitting supplies so she can work on those gloves in heaven, I painted two little hearts to represent “that your heart is never alone”. I painted her Daddy of which she will be watching over now.
I just couldn’t find the words…and well,I believe art can articulate what words cannot say.
I will keep Chuck, Grace’s Mommy, and Grace’s sister, Lily, Mandi and his entire family close to my heart and in my prayers.
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