Grief, sweeps through your body and soul, like nothing I had ever experienced.  After my late husband died, l993, I thought I would never recover.  Grief is a strange phenomenon.  More is written about this part of my life in my book, ‘Molly and Monet.”

My late husband gave me the greatest present that anyone living who knows they are dying can give.   He gave me a 2nd chance at life.  He sat me in the middle of the lake in our boat, and told me the following: ” I know that I am not going to survive.  I want you to promise that you will go on with your life.”  No greater gift have I ever received. It was a late October afternoon, and getting colder in the mountains where the boat was docked. To this day, I still do not know if my grown children understand, the depth of that love and generosity.  In fact, they have all been told of that wonderful gift, and 2l years later, I would have to bet that they still do not remember hearing that statement from me.

After his passing, I was overwhelmed.  But, I remembered his gift.  I went to many grief groups to try and escape my pain.  I met this wonderful Man, who had lost his wife. He walked into the grief group one early evening, and asked me for directions as to where he should go.  He at that time lived near Marina Del Rey, and I lived in another direction completely north of Los Angeles.  There was only a slight chance that we should meet. As the group progressed, about 3 months out, the members went out to coffee, to further discuss their hurts, their lives, their loss.

After l00’s of middle of the night phone conversations, about our losses, and about life, we unburdened ourselves to each other.  That bonding was meant to be. In the Jewish Religion, there is a statement that describes this:  It is called beshert.  We were married l year after.  I waited a year in respect for my children, and Jewish tradition, after my husbands death.

Jim is my age, and less than a month older.  He is a wonderful artist. Most of all, he is a wonderful person and human being and kind.   This story is a partly about a journey.  It became our journey together.

My late husbands father was still alive, and Jim took over to help me with his living. He needed a ramp to wheel his wheel chair up.  He needed physical things, that I could not do. He needed to be wheeled into a show, or in Descanso Gardens, where he loved to visit. he needed people to pay his bills, and he needed full time nursing, and he needed love.

After a few years, my father in law asked Jim, “How can I repay you for all your help?”  My father in law loved clocks, and wanted to give Jim a watch.  Jim did not want to refuse him, but told me, “how do I tell him, I wear very inexpensive watches to paint?”  My father in law, sensed Jim’s discomfort at the idea of a watch.  Bert, my father in law, a kind gentle sweet man, said, Jim, ” I want to buy you something to remember me by.”  He went on, “What would you like?”  Jim answered,” I would love an easel to paint my large paintings on.”

The easel has its place 2l years later in Jim’s studio.  On that easel is a painting, that is named, “Four Hours before the Wedding.” Jim my wonderful husband has painted and touched the easel many times.  He has stories of what has inspired his thoughts, and what he has seen and visualized in his mind.  Some inspirations came from weddings he has attended, and some ideas have come from people he felt that the wedding itself was more important than the marriage as a whole.  Little pieces that he thought were trivia, such as napkins, flowers, places of wedding, dresses, guest lists, and lingerie for the bride, and pictures, and on and on.  Interesting when I interview him after all these years, that this is now what he has said that inspires him

The painting remains unfinished.  The face needs to be completed.  Artists are unusual people.  They are very temperamental with their craft and their work and their talents. He has painted many other things, and done other magnificent artistic endeavors.  But, the easel still holds the same unfinished painting.  It is a marvel to look at and when people go into his studio, they ask “WHY”?  Why is the painting unfinished?  Why is the face.  Jim always replies, I want it to look like the rest, which is from the Renaissance period.  People leave that answer alone,and walk away confused.

Jim to me is THE renaissance man.  He can do anything.  He can build anything, be it a fence, a grand wall, create anything, a room, anything electrical, and even remodel a room, and yet the painting remains unfinished, its home is on my father in laws present, “The Easel.” He can paint, do fantastic and unusual photography, collage, water color, and just be at peace enjoying the home he lives in now with me.  He keeps saying, “it is like a giant park.” Sometimes he lies on a raft in the pool, with our two dogs on top of him, just looking up at the sky.

His studio and his life are filled with paintings.  He has shown and been shown in many venues, but I still do not know or understand the story about the Easel.”  It probably has something to do with the gift, which was beyond generous. Jim always talks about the grandness.  It sits in the middle of his studio, still unfinished, and the grand painting, but the face on this grand presence.remains unfinished.  When asked, he always says it is about renaissance.  This is his excuse.  He has 4 others that remain sketched, but no paint will touch them until he finishes. this one. The painting already has a home when it comes down from the easel.  The home will be at the top of the stairs.

He loves this one dearly, and it has special meaning, and he named it before he set a brush to the canvas, It has his special spirit and painting, “Four Hours Before the Wedding.”

i still thank God for my gifts, one of a beloved man showing me the way to move on, and, who I now share my life with.  I also thank God for giving me Jim, who has taught me more about painting, photography, and digital art, and an entire new world that opened to me. He has encouraged me to write, which is something I always have done and loved.

He also has taught me more about life, that ones days can be filled with love, laughter, sadness, and yes painting, and all the artistic endeavors.

Jim was the artist who drew my dear Molly, and his dear Monet.  They too shall live forever in our joining of our own souls and always be available as our own special Grief Book, as told allegorically, thru the eyes of our two, dogs, those many years ago. Years later, after we finished the book and it was published, we went back to the grief group to share our stories. I wrote the book, and he drew the art work.    The “Four Days Before the Wedding, and the easel is housed in its special home on The Easel.