Still Life

 My aunt Babs was the last of her generation in our family when she died in Florida last year at 92.

Babs and my mother’s kid brother Paul met in the Rockaways and were  childhood sweethearts who went on to have a long and a very happy marriage. (See Aunt Babs and Uncle Paul, May 3, 2015)

My mother was an artist and when Babs and Paul got married she painted a Rockaway beach scene for them.  On the back of the canvas she wrote, “Where it all began!”

My cousins Deb and Robin remember that painting hanging in their parents’ home in New York, and then in Florida when Babs and Paul retired there years later.

When we gathered for the funeral,  I was moved to see that Rockaway beach painting in Babs’ house.   And then I saw another of my mother’s paintings on the wall – one that I hadn’t seen in years.

It was a still life of  a small ceramic planter in the form of a donkey and cart carrying a tall snake plant.  The little donkey planter that my mother used as her model stood on a bookshelf in our living room when I was a kid,  and when I unexpectedly saw it’s painted image hanging there on the wall my heart stopped.

Deb and Robin decided to keep the Florida house and spend more time there.  But Robin lives in California and can’t visit very often,  and so for sentiment’s sake she decided to take the Rockaway beach scene home with her.  Then my cousins pressed me to take the donkey still life.

But the two paintings were each too big and bulky to take on a plane,  and so Robin and I brought them to the local FedEx office.  We explained we wanted one painting shipped to California and the other to New York.

“Considering size and distance,  each will be rather costly.”,  the FedEx agent explained.

We both agreed that was fine.

“Do you want each one insured?”,  he asked.

We both said we did.

“What is the value of each painting?”,  he asked.

My cousin and I looked at each other and smiled.  “Priceless.”,  we both said.

Dana Susan Lehrman


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