…There is also a mini-masterpiece of a simple family having a simple picnic, their glowing faces warm, blissful, and radiant. I had looked away when I noticed how tears seemed to fill his eyes when his brush strokes transferred into the canvas the image of that little boy crawling up his mummy’s lap…
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Another day, another painting.
It is another day at the city park. I sit here in the same spot with the same bag and the same painting materials. The scenes around me, however, are far from being the same as the ones that I had observed days before.
Yesterday I saw a gaggle of teenagers reminding me of my happy past. Today I see a humble gathering of folks who remind me of a – yes, happy – but nonetheless, a somewhat pained portion of my past.
Meters away from me sit a simple family, having a simple picnic, their glowing faces warm, blissful, and radiant.
I will try my best to paint them.
“Mummy, mummy… is Daddy going to be okay? He’s going to get better soon – right?”
“I don’t know, honey. We can hope and pray that he will. Let’s simply hope and pray that he will.”
My father was the artist in the family. His paintings filled the walls of our house and from those masterpieces, I drank in warmth, lifelike glows, and awesome realness. From him, I learned to give my all – all my heart and all my passion – to the creation of the pieces and characters of a single work of art.
I’m struggling with this painting though. I’m struggling with pouring out that warmth, that glow, and that realness. I’m struggling with giving my heart and passion to the seemingly simple characters. Perhaps I should start with the little girl. But she is soliciting a piggy-back ride from her father. This is difficult. The scene reminds me all too much of how my father was.
Notice how I use the past tense in referring to my father? He died of cancer, shortly I finished primary school.
“It’s okay, Natty. Daddy’s safe. He is, isn’t he? Mummy says he’s at home now, with our Daddy God.”
I smile, remembering my little sister’s childlike heart and her wide-eyed reaction to our Dad’s death. She had cried her eyes out during our Dad’s death – cried even harder during his burial – but I… I never cried.
I needed to be strong. My father’s death left me as the man of the house. And boys don’t cry. They don’t. That’s why I gave up art for a while – painting made me want to cry. And so I turned to graphs and limacons.
I tried to distract myself, steering clear of anything that would even give the slightest pull to my tear-ducts.
My hands shake and my eyes fill with tears. I am now transferring into my canvas the image of the little boy crawling up his mummy’s lap. I have to stop to wipe my tears.
“Nathaniel, it’s alright to cry. You have to let it out, honey.” Concerned eyes.
“Boys don’t cry, Mum.”
“Oh, honey…” Her pleading tone pierces my heart.
“I am strong, Mother.”
“But strength is never measured by ability to hold back tears. True strength is measured by your willingness to let your heart be seen and exposed – knowing you’ll still be accepted even when you let your tears fall.” Heartfelt counsel from a woman who had just experienced her “till death do us part”.
“But… I… I – I can’t – I’m not supposed to cry – boys don’t –they don’t – “
Uncontrollable stuttering followed by uncontrollable tears.
Boys don’t cry. But I think I read somewhere that real men do. Since that day, I learned that it was okay to let all my macho bravado drop down and just cry when I needed to.
I cried when I bid my mother and sister goodbye.
“Honey… Don’t worry about me and Elisa. We’ll be okay. You go and follow your dreams. You go and follow your heart. And when you get homesick – don’t worry – it’s okay to cry. Cry when you need to. It’s perfectly okay to cry.”
The painting is finished. I had difficulty with some parts, but it is finished. Some of my tears blended with some of the paint, but this masterpiece shows strength.
The masterpiece of simple family, having a simple picnic – with their glowing faces warm, blissful, and radiant – shows strength.
Tomorrow’s painting – will it show strength as well?