Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Day with Thelma

I left at seven-thirty this morning to meet Thelma in Winter Harbor. She's had a hard winter of illness and recovery from wrist surgery, but finally felt well enough to drive to Maine. Her son lives in Newburgh along with her grandson and his family, so she likes to visit them. She also likes to revisit places and people here that she rarely sees since moving to New Hampshire years ago. She's eighty-five now, a fact I can hardly believe. I have known her for over twenty years, and what an impact she has had.

How can I explain what she has contributed to my life? Not only is she largely responsible for my involvement in art, she has been the person who taught me what it was like to be liked for myself. She showed me an affection that I had never experienced, a comfortable kind of relationship in which I felt valued. At times her role was almost motherly, in a way that my own mother had never been. At others it was sisterly, pulling me into her own family and allowing me to feel like a part of it. Mostly it has been a companionable friendship, deep and lasting like no other that I have had. There have been many times when I was unhappy and troubled that I was comforted just by her presence. I remember many times sitting in the passenger seat of her car while she drove and talked, wrapped up in the sound of her voice like a warm blanket. There have been other times when we have been ecstatic together, having wonderful times, and some when we have been sad. There is no one like her.

I was so happy to be able to spend the day doing the things we always do. We talked, we had lunch at Chase's, we rode around to the Point to the places we have been so many times. The sights for us are never diminished by repitition, but enhanced somehow by memories and familiarity. We took pictures. She showed me a painting she had done, asking for a critique. Discussing art with her is like discussing life--it has a place in both our lives that is like breathing. Our experience with it is so similar that there is no one with whom I feel such a kindred spirit. We share a history that no one else is privy to, and it binds us.

I am being very sentimental, but I feel sentimental. I have felt sentimental for many years about Thelma. It's good to put it into words.

So, here I am. Home again with my dogs and chickens. Happy for having had this day.

No comments: