Homecoming, graphite and colored pencil (in progress).
I took a trip to visit a gallery in Wilmington, Delaware to show my dealer new work and discuss an upcoming show. I sidetracked to visit a grad school friend and didn’t return home until sunset. My wife Judy and daughter Annie happened to be outside when I pulled in. Annie was about 18 months old.
She had fine golden brown hair, and the setting sun crowned her with a shimmering halo as she ran to greet me. I knelt down, swept her into my arms and carried her back to Judy.
Judy always said that our girl was happy when she was with either of her parents, but loved having all three of us together. Then all was well in her world.
Alan came along in 1990. He was a happy baby who smiled and cooed when he woke up from a nap. He began to explore as soon as he could crawl. We would put him on the carpet in the living room while we ate supper, and after five or ten minutes I’d get up to find him in the bathroom. He liked to lay under the sink and stare up at the shiny pipes.
We bought a house in Winter Park in a working class neighborhood. We’d been living in a tiny rental house in an iffy neighborhood on the south side of Orlando. Judy and I gave the kids a tour, showed them their bedroom and an addition at the back designated as their play room. They both looked excited as if they had discovered possibilities for new adventures, and Alan began to run from one end of the house to the other. He had so much more space now and wanted to extend himself back and forth across it.
A few years later we took Annie and Alan out for a treat. Annie had recently turned six and had just performed in her first dance recital. A drug store near an Italian ice stand sold toys, so we bought the kids ice cream and little stuffed animals. Alan chose a panda bear, and that night he held it tightly in his hand as he fell asleep.
Judy and I slumped exhausted after a long day. Annie chattered and chased fire flies. Alan, who was teething at the time, sat on a blanket on our front lawn. He kept crawling to the edge to search for something to stick in his mouth, and I kept vigilant watch to prevent him from gnawing on a twig or a stray piece of gravel.
A fiftyish woman and her husband passed by on their evening stroll. We didn’t know them and exchanged perfunctory greetings. Folks in the neighborhood held back from getting acquainted as the four of us lived in a rental in a college town–we wouldn’t be there for long. The couple nearly reached the next yard, but the woman turned back to study our little family. Her expression turned rueful, perhaps bitter, and she said, “Some day you’re going to look back and realize that these are the best days of your lives.”