Saturday, July 31, 2004

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It? (Epilogue)

Epilogue: Innocence Lost
“If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you?”

My Mother died on August 22, 1968: My childhood didn’t end then, but it was certainly changed — irrevocably, permanently, and completely. Prior to that, I knew death only in the context of the bad guys getting what they deserved on TV. The picture taken in that photo booth is not only a snapshot of a goofball kid having fun and acting his age. It is a photograph of the end of innocence; the end of the period in my life in which I never felt freer.

The memories generated by this photograph will always be as important as they are priceless.

I will always remember my Cousin E, and the Bike Hike adventures we took together. That is a major part of my childhood. I will always remember the incredible role that comic books played in the development of my mind and imagination, and perhaps most importantly, in the inspiration of my career path. In my lifetime I've never aspired to be anything other than an artist; it was all I could ever see myself being. I never had to deliberate over the different options I might have had, or spend time trying to "find myself" in terms of a career objective. It was always a clear decision for me. And even though my vocation ultimately took a different form than I imagined it would, I am still an artist, and have been well-served by my earlier training as an illustrator in affording me a broader skill-set as both a graphic designer and web designer.

Our final year in Indiana was a blur. There would be one more Bike Hike to Anderson. Then began the preparation to move, which included a huge garage sale in which we sold our pool table and nearly all of our furniture. Included was my Mother’s prized Duncan Phyfe-style bedroom suite, which cost $1000 when my Dad purchased it for her in 1945 following his return from WWII. He had to sell it for $100. There’s no telling how much it would be worth today. Fortunately he decided to keep the nightstand from that set, which I now proudly possess, along with my Mother’s other prized furniture piece, her beautiful old china cabinet.

California would be the very definition of a brave new world to my family and me. My impending relationship with my Step-Mom would also bring revolutionary changes to my life — some bad, but many good.

A number of wonderful things happened to me as a result changes wrought by my Mother's death. Moving to California afforded me opportunities that more than likely I would never have enjoyed had we remained in Indiana; and we most certainly would have remained there if she’d lived. I gained much, but as is the case of so many things in life, there is give and there is take. In losing my Mother, I may indeed have gained a better life, but who can say it was a fair exchange? I look at that fun-loving young boy and I wonder to myself how he would have faired if that photo was simply one in a series of ongoing life-affirming moments she would oversee during his adolescence and teen years, instead one marking the end of his innocence as a carefree child. What kind of a man would he have grown up to be? That’s a question that obviously no one can answer. I can only strive to live my life as I think she would have wanted me to if she were here today.

I would like to think that I’ve done that.

I hope I have.

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