Friday, December 26, 2014

A BOX IN THE MAIL

Diane, Paul, Sidney Sue:
Christmas early 1940's
Two weeks ago my older brother Paul died in a nursing home on the rugged northern coast of California. His wife had moved to Big Bear City in southern California just a few weeks before Christmas and had sent me a box of notebooks filled with photographs of all his paintings and the beautiful gardens he had created in his yard.

His life passed before me, and my grief is deeper than sentiment, blood thicker than all the sins he buried in the garden he made for his wife, colors made bolder in a place where he could not hide his soul. "The place" dead-ended in a small wood and was surrounded by a tall cedar fence. Several small bungalows flanked a stone and cedar house with a square bay window in front. Flowers covered every space in the yard—yellow nasturtiums, red salvia, petunias, hollyhock—blossoms hovering over stones and settled among small pieces of driftwood. Birdbaths nestled in clumps of elephant ears and fern; begonias in
wooden tubs. It was a place of nooks and wooden bridges, and at the farthermost point of the yard, a forest of cedars and redwoods loomed.

The first time I visited him in this paradisiacal setting, he told me: "This is life here." That  life followed years of profligate behavior, and he had created a habitat that reflected only aesthetic intention. His paintings hung everywhere—landscapes of California or Louisiana, and a  
group of abstracts that looked like the beginning of creation, cosmic explosions in brilliant reds and blacks.

Ineffably, part of him will go down into the soil that nourished his plants; the rest will ride the wild, blue waves of the Pacific that he was always painting. And I have the photographs in the notebook and the covers of most of my poetry books for which he rendered beautiful paintings—valuable keepsakes that reflect a kind of artistic endurance.


Requiescat in pace, Paul.XXX





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