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A year ago in July, I lost my sister and mother within 9 days.  My sister was 44, a doctor, and died just 10 months after being diagnosed with oral cancer.  My mother had been in relatively poor health for some time, and I believe she just could not handle my sister’s death.  It was just three months until my first big show.


Their prodding had encouraged me to explore art shows in the first place, my mother always my biggest fan.  My sister supported local art festivals for many years and thought I was finally good enough to give it a shot.  Near her death, she introduced me to one of her favorite artists, a painter (among other things) named Ken Swinson.  I had seen his signature on a number of pieces she had.  My sister’s illness brought us together, and I am forever grateful for the gift.  He was very encouraging and supportive of me and my art at a time I really needed it.  He even photographed my work to help me get in a show.  He said in times of stress he worked harder at his craft to stay distracted.  I followed his advice and immersed myself in my work, getting ready for the show.  The night before setup, I was nervous and excited, and just wishing my mother and sister were there to share it with me. 


But gone is not forgotten.  I decided to take them with me in spirit, my mother in the form of a goofy wire and fabric purple flower she had loved, and my sister as a bookmark the funeral home had provided.  And the mojo worked!  During that weekend, I had fabulous neighbors, a painter from Michigan and a potter from New York.  They were seasoned show veterans and offered valuable advice on anything I asked them about, and then some.  I had fabulous customers who loved my bright colors and designs.  The weather was awesome!  I was absolutely thrilled with my sales, but thought more about how proud my mother and sister would be!  And more than once, I regretted not being able to call them to tell them of my successes. 


At my next show the following May, my mother and sister again came with me.  I would smile inwardly as I noticed folks reading the eulogy on the bookmark or looking quizzically at the goofy flower that seemed so out of place.  I was talking to a visitor about cancer sucking or something similar, and that my sister had died of it.  A lady standing close by overheard our conversation and said her doctor had died that past year of cancer.  I knew immediately it was my sister.  I directed her to the bookmark, and eventually offered it to her after a few tears (luckily I had another one at home).  I don’t know which of us were more moved by the experience.   


So at each show, I put up the flower and bookmark as soon as I get my tent up.  They remind me how fortunate I was to have had their love and support as long as I did.  And they give me strength.  They have become my good-luck charms.  What are your lucky charms?  And is there an artist who supported you in a time of need that you will never forget?

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Comment by Anne Nelson on December 7, 2011 at 7:47am


Comment by Annette Piper on December 5, 2011 at 2:18pm

What a wonderful, uplifting story in the face of grief.  Thank you.

Comment by Cindi Hendrickson on December 5, 2011 at 9:59am

This is an awesome tribute to your mother and sister.  I am moved to tears.  Thank you for sharing.

Comment by Gordon Ekback on December 3, 2011 at 8:06am

Having had the same experience in loosing my sister and mom I know those feelings.  I too have an artist friend who has been with me the entire way. My friend is a world known artist. The greatest artist of all time. He is the creator. He has made everything you see. He even created me. He has walked with me through the sorrows and joys of life. To answer your your question...his name is Jesus

Comment by Kathy Oda on December 3, 2011 at 8:02am

Thank you for sharing your story, Becky

Comment by courtney gillen on December 2, 2011 at 4:26pm

Thank You!

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