I can't get over all these pretty days in Birmingham. Usually a rainy type month, but it's been pure sunshine every single day. And with all these perfect blue sky days, I have officially put my studio outside..... sunscreen, umbrellas, paint and tables.. and it's all set!
And with these outdoor painting days.. I have been in tractor painting and guitar painting mode!
It has been really special painting this whole new side of things.. John Deere Tractors! Kind of a meander from the Paris dresses and pink cupcakes. Now I'm onto that pretty green and yellow of what makes a John Deere. And there is a reason why I am painting these. It's because of my dad.
My dad grew up on a farm in Nebraska and carried that deep love of land and farming and tractors all the way to Cedartown, Georgia. His hobby was collecting John Deere tractors. He loved going out to his "shop" and working on his "L" and he could pretty much put together anything and fix anything. He loved everything about John Deeres and had models and pictures and plates of these tractors... he definitely had a passion. And I think it helped him keep his dream of the farm in his heart.
And so each time I pick up my brush and start painting a tractor, I think of my dad. And if you look closely in these pictures, you'll see a tiny heart in the painting. It's a dedication of sorts. I've talked about this before in this blog, but in 2002, my dad had a severe brain injury and the dad that I knew in the beginning of July 2002 changed to a new dad. The new dad has trouble talking and walking and eating and has to have care 24/7. His brain is like a child and he remembers some things but then some days he doesn't. I lost the dad that I knew... the dad that I loved so much. And honestly, I feel that years do ease the pain and I don't cry as much when I start talking about him. But painting these tractors brought back a flood of memories and tears. Life can be hard and tragic and difficult and sometimes we just don't know why things happen. I have to believe... deep heart believe... that God is still good and that I may not understand and that is all part of the mystery. Yet. God is good...He still cares... and He carries us in our sorrows....... and in the midst of it all....my heart and faith stands firm. Darkness helps us go deeper. We empathize more with others and see that each day is a gift.
And I think I love the playfulness and sunshine of life even more because of those dark days. I'll never forget the days at the hospital and waiting for my dad to wake from his coma. I'll never forget the nurse saying, "Your dad has a brain injury.. talk softly." Yet, I had no idea what she meant. I didn't understand what a brain injury was. I had no idea it completely and totally changed the person.
My "new" dad still smiles and can laugh at things and I treasure those times. But I know that if my dad was still the dad he was when I was 30 years old.. he would be so happy that I'm painting his tractors.
I love my dad.... I love his "old self" and his "new self" and think that I'll be painting tractors here and there for the rest of my life... it's just a little way of keeping my dad's "old self" and dreams alive.