This story is in a series with UPS AND DOWNS and MAKING THE MOST OF IT . It would help to read those stories first, but you don't have to.
By Audrey W.
“Incredible. That’s just incredible,” John Gage repeated, his gaze downward on a large canvas acrylic painting he held in his hands.
The nearly sixty-year-old fire captain displayed a familiar crooked grin as he continued to eye the work of art.
“I was pretty amazed myself,” Kel Brackett commented.
The retired doctor had been anxious for his longtime friend to come for a visit at his home to see his wife Dixie’s latest accomplishment. What had made it so amazing was that she was blind and seemingly lost from the world around her much of the time due to a large brain tumor.
Her caretaker had suggested they place a blank sixteen by twenty-inch canvas on an easel and a pallet of paints in front of Dixie, and give her a brush to do with whatever she wanted on the canvas. Initially he’d been very skeptical. But wanting her to still have joys in life, he’d gone along with it anyway. After this first effort, it was clear that his wife did indeed enjoy it, and the result had been a work of art better than he’d seen some sighted artists put out.
John once again scanned his gaze over the green, blue and purple-toned painting that resembled a land of enchantment to him. There were twin waterfalls cascading over a cliff, the rush of water foaming when it reached the bottom. What could be a dragon’s head stretched out from above them.
There was abstract scenery in the middle, some of which could resemble a rounded castle with many windows. Off to the other side was a purplish circle with a white inner one which gave it depth. It appeared to be hovering above dark green leafy plants. The sky was a multitude of colors, though mostly blue. And the lighter green across the top above it made for like the viewer was peering at it all from back within a covered secretive area.
He shook his head slightly as he again marveled at the waterfalls.
“Incredible,” he repeated again with a shrug. “I couldn’t’ve gotten it that right and I can see!”
“I think you should have it.”
John looked up in surprise.
“I don’ know, Doc. I mean, don’t you wanna keep it?”
“There’ll be others. But I really think Dix would want you to have this one. The first one.”
John glanced past his friend to where the newly discovered artist was seated in a rocker-recliner, her expression neutral and her eyes closed. It was possible she was listening to them. With the painting still in hand, he made his way over to where she sat with a Perry Como album playing quietly on an old console stereo nearby, and leaned in close.
“Dixie, it’s Johnny.”
When he didn’t get a reaction, he tried again. “Dixie, can you hear me?”
She gave a slight nod.
“It’s John Gage. I wanted to let you know I’m gonna give your new painting a home in my office at the station so lots of people can see it. You did an incredible job, sweetheart, an’ I wanna share it with the world if that’s okay with you.”
There was another slight nod, though he couldn’t be sure it was in response to what he said. Either way, he knew that others would marvel at the picture she’d come up with, just as he had, and he could tell by the warm expression on Kel’s face that he had been sincere in his offer.
John gave Dixie a kiss on the left cheek. “If you only knew just how special you still are to me.”
Kel stepped closer. “She knows at times. That’s all that matters.”
He knew Brackett was right. On those occasions, the former nurse would say ‘thank you’, indicating she understood. Sometimes she would manage to slowly and carefully speak the words, ‘You’re special to me, too’ in return.
After awhile longer, John concluded his visit and set off with the painting, already anxious to see the next one and the one after that when he came to visit again, next time likely with his wife and other family members. He'd need to take pictures of each one Dixie did to share with their close friends Roy and Joanne DeSoto, who still lived in Seattle Washington. He was certain they would eventually get one of the works of art as well, too.
John was glad that someone had thought of the idea of getting Dixie to paint. Not only for her own benefit, but for the part of her they’d have to treasure now and in later years to come.
I wanted to write this because Emergency! was often a show that could help someone in real life by bringing awareness to certain situations. The painting featured is one my mother actually painted after her sight was gone and her brain compromised by the tumor. My sister has gotten her to paint several now and she really seems to enjoy it just by doing her ‘thing’ with the brush strokes. :o) If this story helps anyone else or their loved one(s), great! :o)
*Click above to send Audrey feedback