When I was very young I saw my mother’s tubes of oil paint and her unfinished correspondence art lessons one day when she was cleaning out her closet. But I never saw her use them. She used her talents in other ways. She did the story of the three bears for me in water colors on cardboard from cereal boxes. She made delightful stuffed animals. She made beautiful visual aids for Sunday School classes. She taught crafts to kids in our small town and at a Christian camp. She even did a kind of art my practical father understood — she canned applesauce, string beans, cherries, peaches, even meat and other good things, and lined them up in colorful rows on shelves in the basement. And she helped Aunt Pearl hang wallpaper for the townspeople.
She did get to take a few painting classes and painted a picture of my daughter’s rag doll before cancer ended her life too early, at the age of 55. And like the story in a children’s book I have read, I, too, have often entertained the childlike fantasy that my mother helps paint the glorious sunrises, sunsets and wispy cloud formations I admire in the sky.