Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Five years ago a young mother passed away from a terrible blood cancer. Her friends and neighbors loved her so much they wanted to honor her memory in some quiet way. They approached her widower to inquire about how best to accomplish their mission and ask his blessing. He recalled how compassionate the nurses and staff at the hospital had been toward him and his 6 year old son. “Something that reminds them of Liesel, her journey, and how they helped us through” was his best suggestion. “Maybe a painting to hang at the hospital that was Liesel’s ‘home’ for so many months”, he offered.
The neighbors went away puzzled, as they were not personally familiar with any artists, nor did they think they could raise the funds to purchase such a memorial. However, they prayed, and trusted that if it was meant to be, it would come about. And it did. The daughter of one of the neighbors had a friend who was just getting started on her own journey of sharing her artwork as a way of sharing her faith, while simultaneously coming to terms with her own blood cancer. It would be a wonderful, well-timed opportunity to debut her original work at a corporate level. It became less about the cost of the painting, and more about bringing beauty and peace to a wing of the hospital that often lacked both. Connections were made. Telephone calls went back and forth. Review and approval of the artist’s work had to be made through corporate channels. A week later, it was a go.
The time came to select a piece of artwork. The neighbors approached the widower and his young son again, asking for their selection of what would be displayed in memory of their wife and mother. They viewed the artist’s paintings. The boy was drawn to the red bird in the snow-covered trees. It reminded him of the love from his mother. And so it was. The art was purchased by the neighbors and delivered to the hospital.
This story’s value is in how the community came together for a young family…the medical community, the neighbors, the friends. But the collateral benefit impacted the artist as well. Many people were involved in the process, each offering encouragement and praise for the humble beginnings of a path toward creativity. This generous spirit wove its way through the entire process. The thread of hope and love tied it all together. This is also my story. The artist was me. The watercolor "Treetops in Winter" hangs to this day, on the 5th floor of Maine Medical Center, known as the Gibson Pavilion.