Saturday, February 13, 2016

After the Funeral Today

In the homily, A, a priest beloved by the deceased, said: "G made things. Out of any material at hand. All the time. Habitually." She added, "G could make something beautiful out of nothing."

At that moment, I was reminded of Lonnie Holley, folk artist and long-ago friend, and his compulsion to make things. Out of anything. All the time. Habitually.

But while he talked about his making, compulsively, in a spiritual or political context, G didn't. And while her husband went to church every Sunday, she stayed home. Despite the angels she created and sold and the angels she acquired from others to sell, she was, as A said, "On the fence about God."

A few years ago, when G and her husband went to Paris, where they liked to spend time, she sent me photos of their rented apartment, excited to share our mutual interest in folk art. Works by artists in her and my collection covered the white walls, and her favorite, a bent wire face, was Lonnie Holley's.

I sent her a photo of my own Holley wire sculpture, and on her return I showed it to her. She wanted to buy it, and I promised if I were ever ready, I'd let her know first. But I was never ready.

Today, as the community walked to the cemetery, preceded by a New Orleans style brass band, followed by her family, some of whom held their decorated umbrellas high in a celebratory funeral second line, I felt so many strands of my life converge that I felt a bit dizzy.

Now, I find myself wishing I had at least lent her the sculpture she loved as much as I.

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