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Jan 28, 2021
In Stories
For Ken, The self-portrait that you gave Alex when he was born is still with me. It hung always in Alex’s bedroom, a charming image of reflection and inner motivation. Now it hangs in my study/workroom in Germany but will someday return to Alex. Curiously, it hangs beside a 1960s Walt Disney print of Sleeping Beauty in the forest with animals, spied upon by Prince Charming and his horse. It's an odd juxtaposition, I know, but one that might make you smile for its incongruity in the tradition of haiku or koans. Recently I finished my second book and, rather than find a publisher, I decided to produce it as a “multiple” – that is, to produce copies myself and distribute them among friends to send on to other friends. I am sorry that you did not have the chance to read it but I designed and printed two dozen copies standing in front of your magical portrait. I would like to think that you passed along some good vibes in this way, from friend to friend, just as these copies will be transmitted into the world. I cherish my friendships, those short-lived but of long duration in terms of influence and those that manage in spite of the conflicts of time and space to endure. I count ours as both in spite of being more in the nature of the former than the latter. It is a valued connection and those short years of our graduate program and the following ones in which many of us remained of influence to one another are – without doubt – the most satisfying of my life. Everything that was important to me came together in those years: challenging conversation, shared interests and activities, and caring for one another. It was when I married and our son was born and when I still had hopes for a creative career (“career” was finally abandoned, “creative” was not!) As far as creativity is concerned, I have produced far less than you and done more as a writer than as a visual artist. However, as with all words, they are often inadequate for the job they are intended to do. Nevertheless, from my heart, I would have wished you a longer life but it does me good to know that, no matter the length, you lived a very good life: creative, productive, communal, resourceful, thoughtful, and caring. Now, I wish your friends and family all the ease, comfort, safety, and love that is possible. May they conjure up the strength, courage, and warmth that you showed to us throughout your life. Much love and compassion, Kathleen MacQueen
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