The Most Heartfelt Thank You I Ever Received
This heart-warming story by artist Meg Black (www.megblack.com) illustrates so perfectly the truth – a work of art is not complete until it is shared.
In late December, I received a phone call from my friend Mary’s husband. After a brief “how have you been, what’s new” greeting, he got to the point, which seeing Christmas was just days away I pretty much assumed where this conversation was headed. “Mary has always wanted one of your paintings,” he said, “and this year for Christmas, I’d like to give her one that she’s picked out from your web site.” And then he gave me the title of the painting.
“Ok, I said, “come on over next week and we’ll take care of it.” I hung up the phone and thought no way am I selling him that painting. I know Mary. She is poetic, a lover of literature, and skilled at linguistics. I know the correct painting for Mary and this is not it!
So, the following week her husband arrived at my studio at the agreed upon time just as I was wrapping the painting I knew was the right one for Mary. Not the one she had picked out on my web site, but a painting of a garden path, inspired by a trip to the English countryside that I had gone on with my mother some years ago.
Her husband paused, trying to find the right words to say:
“Um, this isn’t the painting Mary chose . . . ”
“Trust me, this is the painting for Mary. Mary loves literature, stories, poetry. This is what this garden path is all about. It’s about life’s journey, the twists and turns, the lovely but jagged edges. The changing of the seasons and the metaphor for how our lives change. She’ll love it.”
“Ok, I trust you.”
A few weeks later, I received the most lovely hand written card from Mary:
I want to thank you for steering Jerry in the direction of the most beautiful painting I didn’t know I wanted.
As you may know, this gift was from Jerry and from my mom in the form of some money she left after she passed away last January. I wanted something tangible to remember her by and I knew she would love your art. Having a piece of your work has always been something I’ve always dreamed of, and I knew my mother would take great joy in giving me something I would not buy for myself.
I had settled on the beach roses because I love them and the beach. But when I opened the wrapping, I was at first confused and then delighted.
This painting is so very much my mother. She loved spring flowers and the colors and promise they reflect. The emotional connection I had to this painting was immediate and almost spiritual. The loss of my mom has been a struggle I deal with daily. The painting has focused my heart on the sunny, warm memories I have in my heart, rather than the cold, lonely feelings I have trouble shaking. The path in the painting is my path to healing.
Thank you for this gift and for your incredible talent. I am so blessed to have a piece of you in my home and will always cherish this work and your personal effort to give me this particular painting.
Much love and gratitude,
Letters to and from Mary
This lovely testimonial has touched off a series of letters Mary and I have mailed back and forth to each other over the past few weeks, both of us enjoying this charming and all but forgotten form of communication.
As Mary’s thoughtful words express and how this story illustrates, the work of art is not complete until it is shared. Until someone else adds their own tale to what the artist has started and sits in front of the work and feels the joy, warmth, and memories the work conjures up, the work is incomplete.
This is what makes being an artist worth it. In the words of Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget
what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Being an artist helps me make people like Mary feel better, just like she set out to do when she sent me her lovely thank you card.
Visit Meg Black’s website at www.megblack.com
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