"She hated funerals so much that she decided not to come even to her own" (our own dear Mary at the end of a lovely service)......... this my darlings is British humour, something I really admire about this nation. It has the ability to dismiss sadness, to wash away the tears, all in a few simple words.
I'm not going to write about this today although humour and giggles were very much part of my very special relationship with a soul now painting with the angels, inspiring them to paint with bigger brushes, bolder colours, sharing with them the last of her delicious pieces of chocolate (in fact lots and lots of chocolate) and endless cups of aromatic coffee.
I want to write today about serendipity, about those moments when even years after an event you remember everything vividly... with gratitude and with love.
.......some years ago, sometime in the month of April, when the peaceful English countryside was bounding into life, nature's way of compensating us, with an explosion of colours and scents, for the miserable past six months of grey, I was touring the Eastbourne "Open Houses" art festival and came across an art group (Art 22). I was completely taken by the work of one particular artist......the rest is the history of a lovely friendship.
So, what attracted me to her work?
Her bold brush strokes (implying the artist worked with big brushes .. at that time I was using tiny, tiny ones) and her use of powerful colours, clear proof of a strong inner voice ....so somebody I wanted to meet.
Much to my lasting joy Jill, the artist, was there that day.........her colourful clothes, her smile, embraced me like a warm fluffy hug. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship! A friendship I wish you all to experience in your life! It is a priceless gift because "at times our own light goes out only to be rekindled by a spark from another person".
Many of us have cause to express deep gratitude to those who lit the flame within us." So my darlings, my fairy art mother Jill E, did exactly that ... to me".
If my father's terminal illness in a harsh place a long way away was the event that made me pick up a brush for the first time nine years ago, Jill was the one who encouraged me to be bolder, to paint bigger.......to paint with and from the soul and not with the eyes.
In time, over many many cups of coffee, I had the priviledge to learn about her past, about the things that made her happy and I came to understand her generous philosophy of life.
The Dalai Lama, in one of his quotes, described very well (in my opinion) what darling Jill was all about .... "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy ... our own heart is our temple; kindness is our philosophy".
When one leads a life under a coloured umbrella of kindness ..... anger becomes compassion, tears become laughter, life becomes a never ending rainbow of opportunities... in spite of the limitations that age, health, where you come from, and more could bar your way..remember to hang on to the coloured umbrella. Jill was and will always be an ambassador for this way of thinking.
.... in her 50's she started adult education classes and obtained a diploma in art. She joined an art group (Art on the River/Art flow), exhibited, sold paintings, enjoyed the camaraderie that a shared passion brings along. While in her 60's she decided to take flying lessons. She piloted her small plane across the Downs, allowing the patterns, the colours and textures of the patchwork of fields and life below to bring a different perspective to her paintings. I will never forget her cheeky face as she told the story of the "sticky clouds".... her endless curiousity made her want to touch the clouds, to feel their texture. Much to her instructor's amazement she opened the window of her Cessna ... and ... yes, she touched the clouds, feeling what it might be like to be among them.
In spite of her fragile health she continued to charm everyone with her cheerful, optimistic way! Although she is now in a different dimension, every time I dip my brush into paint, every time I pick up a new piece of paper or canvas, every time I look at paintings all around the house, I know she will be in the clouds above me, encouraging me, telling me never to give up experimenting, always imploring me to continue to paint from my heart!