Thursday, September 24, 2009
She Lives On - The Old Russian Woman
I have written about her before. This is the rest of the story. I left her behind. I couldn't take care of her. I didn't have room for her in my life. I hoped that someone else might take an interest in her and give her a home. But it was a faint hope, and frankly apart from looking at her picture in my computer files occasionally, I had forgotten her. I concluded that she was gone.
Before you castigate me for unfeeling cruelty to humanity and this woman in particular, permit me to hastily tell you that I am speaking about a 20X24 inch painting of an old Russian woman - a painting I painted forty years ago. I was twenty-two years of age and I needed a ride - wheels - transportation. My Uncle Les graciously swapped a 57 VW Beetle for this painting. The car took me to college, carried my new girlfriend on dates, and trips to my family to show her off - the girlfriend that is. Eventually I sold the car for $150 and accepted that both the car and the painting were history.
I graduated and began a career as a clergyman, pastoring four churches and CEO-ing one church denomination. Twenty years ago Christine and I made the move to British Columbia, leaving our extended families in Ontario and Quebec. In 1996 during one of my routine trips east, Uncle Les returned the painting to me, inscribing on its back that it should be passed on to my eldest son. Since I have only one son, Jeff was going to be the recipient. Considering that I had to fly back home and assuming that my son would have little interest in this large art piece, I left it with another Ontario family member who desired something that I had painted.
In 2007 the painting came into my hands once again, showing its age and some soiling. I didn't want to take her on my flight west and I was too nostalgic to give her up entirely so I tucked the painting behind my father's couch in his apartment - with his permission of course. When Dad died in May 2008 my brothers Murray and Neale, and I cleaned out the apartment. There was the Old Russian Woman. I made the difficult decision that I didn't want her. You might say I put her down - that is, I took her to the downstairs refuse room, propped her on the top of a garbage can and invited anyone who wanted her, to take her. If someone did, I hoped to receive a note letting me know, so I left my name, address, email, website and phone number. I heard nothing. She was gone.
Then this week, seventeen months after I turned the lights out behind me in the refuse room, I received an e-message from someone named Patrick in St. Catharines saying, "Hello, Mr. Unruh, Just wanted to let you know your painting, which you traded for a V.W. Beetle is at my home, won at the Christian Benefit Shop here in St. Catharines. Any possibility you may write some history regarding your painting for me? Have a Great Day, Pat."
So, someone saw her. Perhaps her happy, dancing eyes captured attention. Someone took her to a shop where she found a new caregiver. Imagine! I love this serendipity. It's the rest of the story. The Old Russian Woman lives on.