We found two portraits of my Grandfather tucked into cobwebs this weekend. One was done by a famous impressionist painter who happened to be a family friend and is the same painter who did my Grandmother's portraits. Painted when Grandfather was older, it's done in muted greens and sickly pinks and the man in the painting looks unhealthy and miserable. Mom said it looked like how she remembered him.
The other was a formal portrait of Grandfather in full-dress arrogantly challenging the viewer. My mom said that was how he saw himself. And obviously why he was so unhappy in the other painting.
When questioned about what we should do with them, my Mom almost giggled and then had her guy hang them in the front hallway with a pastel of Uncle as a child hanging on top so that when Uncle comes up next month, they are the first things he sees. And then Mom laughed and laughed and laughed.
You see my grandfather was a Navy Captain. And when the Navy didn't want him anymore because his heart kept misfiring, he became an angry alcoholic former Navy Captain who taught at the exclusive boys school for rich unmanageable boys. Oh, and a very angry alcoholic who found fault in every one and every thing and wasn't very pleasant to be around.
My Mom did what she could to stay out of his way, she graduated high school at sixteen, which was the earliest they would let her out, and went off to college as far away as possible. My Uncle, who was seven years younger, was stuck being a disappointment because he refused to join the Navy and was rejected from the Air Force because he's colorblind. This is a guy who is not only a brilliant photographer but also a wicked smart man who became a professor of biology and an expert in sarcasm and witty retorts. My Grandfather was an alcoholic racist and not at all in the running for Father of the Year.
When my Grandmother died twenty years ago, we found a clay sculpture someone had done of my Grandfather in a crate tucked inside the top shelf of her bedroom closet. The clay was still moist and tacky. Uncrated, the sculpture sat on the table while we all discussed what to do with it and then Uncle, who like Mom has "never seen the benefit of therapy" proceeded to rearrange the artist's vision to match his own vision of his father. He gleefully scrapped and twisted and rolled and manipulated the clay for hours while we watched and Mom and Uncle told stories.
This was the final result.
And what he still looks like twenty years later.
Don't tell me therapy doesn't work.
My name is ej. I'm a girl. I say that because with the short hair and the short initials, folks aren't always sure. More brilliant insights to who I am in About me