My Aunt Mary has finally passed away from colon cancer. My mother nursed her for the last four months or so of her life, while Mary fought valiantly to have just one more day.
I have something I'd like to ask of anyone who wishes they were good enough or special enough to do something they love with their life. Or who has a goal that feels unattainable.
Go for it.
I say this because Mary was like a beacon to me. She made mistakes in her life, she was human. But she tried hard to continually shake off the mantle of Societal Norms and do what felt real to her.
She was a phenomenal painter, a loving teacher, patient, gentle, giving, never threatened by another's talent. This woman never gave up her art. She was too sick to pursue it as far as she could have if she had been well, and still she always came back to it. No matter how impractical or inconvenient.
And in spite of the fact that she had to work sporadically at the thing she wished she could dedicate her life to, she never stopped learning, teaching, or living as though it was her main focus.
In Mary, I found a fearless kindred spirit, an ally, a friend an inspiration. We didn't get to take our painting trip to France together, nor did we get to tour the sculpture and architecture of Italy together, nor did I get to go with her on what turned out to be her last real lucid days, an art trip to New York. I couldn't fly down to join her as she faded.
If I could have sat in her room and let her feel all the love I have in my heart, and the amount of gratitude that I have for her spirit and the way she lived her life and encouraged me to live mine, if I could have given her a conduit to the way I felt about her...
But I couldn't, so instead, I will say thank you, Mary, for being fearless, and scared, and brave, and real and true. For challenging me to do better in my life. For letting me put clippies in your hair. For loving me. For being an artist even when it wasn't practical, a good idea, or responsible. Thank you.