Sunday, August 23, 2009

August Anniversary

Here is folk artist Nancy Thomas's August calendar. This time I placed it on a picture hook near a window and allowed the Sunday morning sun to pour over it. No flash necessary, but standing inside a dormer it was not easy to get very far away from the image, hence the very close closeup.

Even though I have been back to school since August 4th and have been seeing my students since the 7th, it somehow never really feels like school until September arrives. So the school boards may change the dates, but the old inner calendar has been set in stone for a long time.

A lifetime of habits and celebrations and memories revisit our years. There truly is a certain quality of light in August that streams through the window and onto the faces of my parents. The two oil paintings used to hang in my parents' bedroom, but are now in my home. As a small child, I tested the artistic theory that well rendered eyes in a portrait will follow you as you walk past them....and both sets of eyes always did. My father had commissioned these when he was in Italy...somewhere in Sardinia...during WWII. The artist used a pair of photographs with which my father traveled all throughout the war. He came home with many unusual artifacts and relics, but to me these paintings are the real and unquestionable treasures.

My parents were married in 1936, seventy-three years ago today, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. My mother had ridden in a bus through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park from Chattanooga, Tennessee to marry my father and used to tell stories about that trip. I know to her it seemed a huge adventure, but my mother's innocent journey toward her future would be swallowed up by an even longer and more arduous journey. Just ahead of the newlyweds lay World War II spawned by the inevitable and tragic events brewing in Europe and the Far East.

" And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

from "The Second Coming" W.B. Yeats 1920

Between August 1936 and the fall of 1942, my parents had their first two children and built a small two story home west of Birmingham. When my father left, he was gone for three and a half years. Indeed, he did return, unharmed, though not unchanged. How my parents and so many others managed to nurture a marriage and their children through those years truly astounds me. My sister Sue (born a little over nine months after his return) claimed Super Early Baby Boomer status, while I (born five years after her) was dubbed just a plain old Baby Boomer.

My mother's oil portrait from the photo featured below.

My father's portrait most likely painted from the photo below.
I think my dad may have sat for this as well.

This is the photo of my father, Captain Patterson, taken in 1942.
He lived from December 1911 to June 1971.

This is the hand tinted photo of my mother, Nina, which my father
kept with him throughout his time in Europe.
She lived from April 1914 to April 1982.


Country Girl said...

Oh, this is so beautiful! My father just passed away last fall and joined my mother who had been gone for 2 years.
Beautiful tribute to your parents. And a good story.

willow said...

What a lovely tribute to your beautiful parents. I especially like the locket your mother is wearing. Do you have it now? Great portraits.

This reminds me, I fogot to do a post on Leos!

Michael said...

Just a wonderful blog M, special memories and Sonnet 116 is a great match.

Gaston Studio said...

Yes, a beautiful tribute to your parents and their life adventure.

FireLight said...

Country Girl, it is really hard isn't it?
Thinking of them together again does help.
My mom was on her own for about 12 years.
Willow, the locket is with my older sister, as it should be. It has its own story...(a post topic for sure).
Michael, I had the sonnet up for my own anniversary, but it most especially suits my parents' marriage. Also, our priest recited it as part of the marriage ceremony (his own idea)when my son married two years ago. It was perfect for him and his beloved as well!

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Heck, didn't you just get OUT of school? What happened to summer??????
Loved the tribute to your folks, just great!

Derrick said...

Hello FireLight,

Lovely photos, paintings and story! Your father was fortunate to be able to get the paintings done and bring them home. I hope that you don't find August too long while you're waiting for school to "start" in September!

Virginia said...

Just a beautiful story! I am pleased you have those portraits to remember them by.
PS Tell the school board to roll that calendar back!

Lyn said...

I love the quality of hand tinted much a reflection of another era..beautiful tribute.
By the way, I've left a MeMe Award for you on my blog, simple stuff, just 7 bits of info about you..then please pass it on..Thanks!

FireLight said...

Thank you, Lyn!!! I look forward to giving this a try over the weekend!

Rowan said...

A lovely story about your parents, the portraits must mean a great deal to you.

About Me

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat