When you are of a certain age, there are more funerals to attend than we care to admit. Planning an appropriate service is something of an art. Recently I attended a memorial gathering of people who had known and cared about a certain woman -- let me call her Kathie for the sake of this blog--who died last fall. The service was held in a library, for she had been instrumental in the funding and building of that library. She was a generous donor to many causes and an eager volunteer in areas from the arts to Girl Scouts. The library staff knew Kathie loved spring and flowers so they decorated their main area as a garden, with flowers and arches and something akin to a pagoda of sorts with hanging wisteria. People were invited to talk about their connections with Kathie.
Kathie accomplished a great many successful business deals and civic projects. She had a passion for politics and the Cleveland Indians. She had traveled and lived in many places. She treasured her heritage and her family. She was impish and impulsively adventurous. From the many tributes and comments, I learned that others also recognized Kathie had cultivated the art of lasting friendships. “Friendship is a sheltering tree, “wrote Samuel Coleridge many years ago, and he got it right. It seems that Kathie was a sheltering tree not only to her family but to a community, including staff at the assisted living facility where she had to stay during the Covid lockdowns and the last year of her life.
I also attended an art exhibit this spring and heard artists talk about their work. What I learned is that most artists seem to create their work, whether on canvas, with fabric, or clay, based on their memories intertwined with dreams, rituals, and visions. I went home and studied some of the paintings that hang on my walls. Each one seems to tell me a story, a consideration of landscape, idea, or object. I treasure them for their colors, form, and themes.
Somehow spring this year seems especially colored by the art and vision of nature, the art and rituals of remembering individuals who give meaning to our lives, and the art of friendships present and past. Like the seasons, are lives are transient and somewhat migratory. Like the people of Ukraine sadly have discovered, who knows where or when we will land or what will be knocked off our roofs.