Posts Tagged ‘father’

Head Study of My Father oil on canvas (9″ x 12″)


Eulogy delivered at Memorial Service  for Mike Mandish

Smile, though your heart is aching,
Smile, even though it
s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
ll get by

 If you smile through your fears and sorrows,
Smile and maybe tomorrow
Youll see the sun come shining through
For you

I love this song. It’s a classic. It’s childlike in its simplicity and it was written by a man who made a career of making us laugh amidst the pathos, never failing to remind us that life and love are the most precious of gifts — and it’s a song that always reminds me of my Dad. The man whose crooked smile was a constant reminder that the glass was not only half full but much of the time completely full. Just as Jesus reminds us in the gospels that our heavenly Father provides for us all that we need — not to be confused with what we momentarily want.

So it was that my father imparted that same wisdom to me as well as the rest of his children, that it was only with an attitude of gratitude that we could hope to fully partake in all that the Lord in all his goodness and grace has afforded us.

The portrait of my father that greeted you as you entered this service is an enlarged print of a smaller head study in oils that I painted of my Dad. That picture of the man with the crooked smile was done as a preliminary study for a larger painting that I intended to do of him that actually has his hands raised, palms out, effectively framing his face like so (demonstrating gesture). The hands were to be in sharp focus and the face was to be softened even slightly blurred, so as to push it to the background. So I was left with the challenge of creating a likeness but making it somewhat indistinct and, in order to preserve a likeness and yet distort it, you must first be very familiar with that likeness. Not to bore you with the process but basically, knowing my Dad would not want to sit and model endlessly, and knowing that he never minded having his picture taken, I took a lot of pictures of him along with his hands and, even though not one of the photos captured him entirely as I see him, together they helped me build a likeness of him that matched my image of him, crooked smile and all. But his hands — when I looked at all the pictures of his hands, BIG hands my Dad has — I thought, my God, it’s as though I’m looking into his whole history and every fold and furrow in that generous display reminded me of a time when those hands forged steel, poured cement, laid tile, laid pipe, laid bricks, hammered nails, crafted furniture, carved wood, swung my Mother on the dance floor and gently held babies. Ah but, lest we forget, with one hand driving at high speeds, the other hand sweeping like a pendulum of doom across the back seat to correct two overactive, quarrelsome sons in one felled swoop.

Long before Nike coined the phrase my father was the “Just Do It” poster boy. He was not afraid to tackle any job and he used those big hands inevitably and selflessly in service to others. I know because many times I was the beneficiary, especially after buying my first home. And I was just one of a multitude who benefitted from his service.

I’ve had a very rough year. But I’ve had the original painting of the man with the crooked smile in my studio throughout this time, looking down on me and it reassures me continually that the crooked smile is not a smirk, or a patronizing smile, or a laughing at you smile. It’s a smile that says: “I know exactly what you are struggling with. I know how daunting these challenges appear. I know exactly who you are and what you’re made of AND I LOVE YOU.”

Allow me to take this moment to say, I love you Dad!


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