Sunday, June 19, 2011

In Dad's Shadow

My siblings and I are quite different in the ways we’ve chosen to live in this world, yet we spring from the same creative stew. 

Our parents were a product of the Great Depression, which means that their families used everything they owned with great care and ingenuity.  I’ve heard my father say that when it came time to butcher pigs for the table, everything was used but the squeal. 
Whatever creativity my siblings and I have now surely came in some part from a climate of necessity brought on by living in difficult times. 
Commute  6 x 9 pastel  Private Collection

On Father’s Day, I honor my father, whose talents and empathy surely were born during the Dust Bowl, yet flourished in a mind fertile and open to wonder.
Dad was a tinkerer, - that’s what he called it.  He enjoyed being in his basement workshop, creating what we needed, or thought we needed.  He whistled while he worked quite literally, busy with the necessity of raising 6 children on a teacher’s salary, and doing so with grace and cleverness.  Dollhouses and tiny kitchens for my sisters and I, skateboards and jungle-gyms for the brothers, it was as much the challenge of the design and building as it was the need for keeping us satisfied. He built a guitar and then learned to play it, not so much because he enjoyed playing but because he wondered if he could.

 We toured the Platte River in a flat-bottomed canoe built to withstand the excitement of wiggling children because it was more interesting to build one than to buy one.  His first sailboat was built in the back yard, and the first of many remote-controlled airplanes were built in the basement, crashed in a field south of town, and rebuilt once again for another flight.
Leaves on Blue Water  24 x 18 pastel  Private Collection
My siblings and I have chosen very different fields, all with a nod toward my Dad in his workshop. I see some of that influence even in my sons. 

It was not his great desire, nor his determination, that brought the traits of creative endeavor to my siblings and me. It was simply the way he lived his life.
It’s not what we leave in boxes and piles that matters. It’s how we move through each day that leaves the greatest mark. 

I wonder. What sort of mark will I leave?

3 comments:

Patrick Gracewood said...

Patricia, "...use everything but the squeal" was my grandfather's story too. I've taken it to use to be as fully present to my work and life as possible...sometimes even using the squeal!
Glad to have found your work and writing. I'm having revisionist thoughts about all my social media efforts, canceled Twitter. Your post reminds me how living as an artist is both "product" and process. thank you.

Patty said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Patrick. Product and process - perfectly put !

Patty said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Patrick. Product and process - perfectly put !