This is one of my favorite photos taken in 1963 of me at age 5 and my dad, age 42, drawing together. We were on vacation at our ancestral family farm in Tennessee about an hour south of Nashville in the tiny rural community of Fly. We drove there from Texas every summer to visit my grandparents on my mother’s side and any aunts, uncles and cousins who sometimes also drove in from out of town for a family reunion.
My dad was a professor of painting and art history as well as a professional contemporary artist (painting and sculpture). He had a wonderful sense of humor and a supreme love and appreciation of all things natural. He had been a pilot in WWII for 5 years and had seen some disturbing sights of war he wouldn’t talk about, although now and then, he would tell me stories of his adventures in Africa and the Middle East. He smoked Captain Black tobacco in his pipe. There’s still a can of it in his studio. The sweet, musky smell brings me right back to him. He died suddenly of a heart attack at home in Texas several years ago, having lived a long, full life of 88 years.
I loved how my dad never made me feel uncomfortable for being a quiet child who preferred to listen and observe others rather than talk. I miss the way he would smile at me when a butterfly would land on my hand, the butterfly being the most precious and important thing in the whole world at that moment, or the way he would draw something funny on his napkin during supper and show it to me discreetly so my mother couldn’t see our shared secret. How lucky I am to have had such a sensitive, kind, intelligent man as my life mentor for so many years.