I went to a memorial for my lovely, kind-hearted, great uncle Bob yesterday. He was the last of nine siblings – my paternal grandfather was the eldest and Bob was the youngest. Sad memorials are also splendid family gatherings. My sweet husband sat with me at a big, round table squished against a gaggle of my gesturing Italian cousins, aged 65 to 9. Part of the magic of a family tree is that it grows invisible, subterranean roots that keep our hearts connected over continents and decades. I can spot a cousin across the room, smile, embrace, and pick up where we left off the last time we saw each other, even if it was 6 years ago. We cousins are getting grayer and more deeply lined with age now, and we share a humor flecked with poignancy in our stories about the folks who’ve passed on, and our recollections of childhood shenanigans that have evolved into family mythology. I especially enjoyed the kids at the table, with their striking resemblances in familiar eye brows, coloring, and 3rd generation bone structure. The day made me want to come home and paint faces of my family and rooms & houses my family inhabits in old photo albums. Time is tumbling forward, and there are so many people in my heart to think about while the brushes are moving. Do you crave studio time too, after a loss or during bereavement?
One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts – just mere thoughts – are as powerful as electric batteries – as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in, you may never get over it as long as you live… surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time, and push it out, by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.
Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.
~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden, 1911