Painting the Barn

This is an old family picture. A friend of mine who is 79 said it was a photo of her in laws painting the family barn. Family projects are always a very involved endeavor.

I once helped paint a relative’s house. So many people showed up. Thanks should have been what I felt, but so many people without a leader doesn’t always give us the results we want.

Her house got painted and people got fed, but I felt a bit sad. Why sad? Sometimes people expect things to be done free. Sometimes people who do “good works” do it for the recognition and if they don’t get the “repeated” thanks. Well some get a little less humble.

Families are complicated. We should always help each other and when we feel unappreciated we should stop. We should stop, but then we should start again. We should not stop helping but sometimes we need to step back and catch our breath.

I believe in giving. I believe we give from the heart. I believe sometimes we just need to put our lives on pause and regroup. I believe in family and I also believe in following your heart. ❤️

Helen

Helen was born in 1939  in Schlesien, Germany. She was 14 years old when her family had escaped Germany and ended up in Watertown,Wisconsin. Her story I found fascinating. It is hard to imagine the life and death struggles her parents made in order to bring their family to a country where they didn’t even speak the language.

Everyone has a story; a beginning and a end. Not all of us crossed the great Atlantic to begin a new life, but we all have crossed distances to become who we are today.

As a child we had little choice but to follow our parents. Whether we wanted to move to a new city or start at a new school it really wasn’t up to us. We were children; we didn’t ask why.

When we became adults we are intoxicated by the freedom of our new found adulthood. We soon learn that each choice we made and distance we traveled didn’t always take us where we had expected. We are shaped by these experiences or lack of these experiences.

Some people are afraid to open the door to the possibilities of the unknown, paralyzed by a fear they can’t explain or understand. My mother often told me that she didn’t want me to be afraid of life like she was. She pushed me to be fearless. I think in the end she wished she hadn’t pushed quite so hard. 😜

Like Helen I’m still on an adventure. Helen has often told me that getting old isn’t for sissies. So I will grab hold of this next chapter of my life and squeeze out as much love and fun as I can. I don’t need to know what will happen next. Sometimes not knowing is half the fun.

Helen of Schlesien
I gave Helen a gift of her younger self. She’s still cute.

Lily

I saw a picture of a young beautiful girl with the biggest smile. At first I don’t notice the missing button, the smudges of dirt or even her surroundings. Then I looked a little closer.

The man’s belt no longer fits, the pants have a big hole and a big patch. This family is poor. He’s not wearing pants with holes in them because it’s stylish. He didn’t buy those pants that way! He worked in those pants for a long, long time. Maybe the girl is his granddaughter and maybe they’re not related at all.

I see poverty and I see joy in this picture. Her smile is pure; not fake. The original photo was taken back in the 40’s. I don’t know the girl’s name so I’ve decided to call her Lily.

I like to think Lily went on to do great things. That she was surrounded by people who cared. Her parents gave her a solid foundation. Her teachers cultivated and encouraged her mind to love learning. I hope she met a man who respected her mind and her body. Whose love for her was real.

I will never know if any of this is true. Her reality may have been on where her next meal was going to be or how she could earn more money to help her family.

There are still a lot of ‘Lily’s” out there in the world. They need adults who care, who model behaviors that are healthy. In this rich country children should never go to bed hungry nor should they not receive the very best education we have to give.

We should not forget our children. They sit quietly at every table, in every chair listening and watching us. What are we teaching them?

“lily” – Acrylic on canvas 14”x18”