Wednesday, October 19, 2016

his name is "Jeff"

This morning I put the finishing protective coat on my first painting in at least 16 years. I am not a painter or a visual artist. I have trouble getting images in my mind down accurately on paper or canvas using any medium but words. Yet every once in a while the fancy strikes me - put colour on canvas. Add pigment and light where there is none. And so I try. Sometimes the results frustrate me, and sometimes - as today - they satisfy.

I started this painting a couple months ago and completed it in fits and starts. Being creative is a significant contribution to my recovery from the depression and anxiety that over-whelmed me last spring, but sometimes I forget that. TV doesn't heal; writing, knitting, singing, dancing, loving, painting, exploring ... these are the things that nourish me. I do well when I remember that.

But enough about me; this is about Jeff. This morning I completed a painting. This afternoon I will adventure to a smaller island in the Salish Sea to celebrate the life, love and artistry of my friend Jeff Molloy. Jeff is truly an artist. A creative mind that could look at life and see whimsy and folly and history and culture and wrap it all in a mackinaw or a Hudson's Bay blanket so you saw it too.

Jeff was also a husband - his wife of more than 30 years was my first boss in Victoria and is the kind of passionate, engaged, powerful woman I love to surround myself with and learn from. Working with Kathryn I learned to change the world. Watching Kathryn and Jeff love each other I learned to love and laugh and commit to creating lives worth sharing when you find someone willing to do the same with you.

And Jeff was a dad. He and Kathryn's three children were adolescents and teens when I met them, and the adoration in that family was clearly a five-way street. Those 'kids' are now adults with their own babies, and so Jeff had become Poppa well before he said good-bye this summer.

Yes, Jeff died of cancer. Another good man gone with generations left to mourn him. But that is not what we gather this afternoon to remember. That is not why Jeff is worth celebrating.

Jeff lived a life. He loved well. He expressed what he saw of the world. He celebrated music and encouraged the musicianship of his children. If a rising tide truly floats all boats, Jeff was a tide for the people around him.

As I finished my painting this morning, I thought of Jeff. I thought of his unwillingness to live the expected life (a creative life is always an inspiring act of courage and rebellion), of how he embodied the WestCoast life. I thought of the mischievous twinkle that he always had about him. And I thought, presumptuously no doubt, that Jeff wouldn't mind if I name my playful orca after him. I'm only sorry it's not wearing a mackinaw.

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