On my calendar, 15th March, a biro drawing of an angel (drawn in retrospect); he brought my tree home from the nursery, the tree now planted near my back fence as a barrier against my neighbour in her back bedroom window with binoculars. It’s taken 15 years and a good fence which won’t blow down to realise the potential of my garden.
On my calendar, the drawing of a devil, 20th March. Banned from the writing group because I value myself (better late than never) enough to say, ‘hang on a minute. I’m not your saddled cow’. My voice was cut out before I could say, ‘goodbye’.
On my calendar, 22nd March, an angel; I bought a trellis from Jewsons; six by six. To be fixed one side of my pergola for a sheltering-from-binoculars evergreen clematis. Too heavy for me, car too small. The assistant asked an angelic local builder to take it home for me.
‘Being helpful is good for the soul’, he said, that’s how I knew he was an angel, and the assistant, an angel in training. My soul, squashed on the ground from having my voice ripped out, got up and took notice.
Bemused and almost out of time, my painting was shortlisted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition. I tracked down a framer and explained my difficulties. Time. I left the (blotted but still wet) painting with him.
By this time, I was parched, it was almost 10am. I had seen a notice outside a church; ‘cuppa and biscuits, 8.30 – 10’. I’ll chance it.
Two women around a table, a large glass wall, a beautiful tree drenched in catkins.
‘Am I too late?’
‘No, come in, sit down, join us, if you like.’
Wow, yes, conversation after having my voice stolen would be a joy. They were kind, open faced. Morning tea was intended for mums with small children but the morning had been very wet and no one had come. Yes, I had driven in a downpour which stopped as soon as I parked the car.
Not only did having a cuppa with two angels give me back my self in bucketfuls, but one of the angels was a member of the Royal Academy, not an artist, a supporter.
How much better can it get for me?
That afternoon a ‘phone call; ‘your frame is ready’. An angel with real punch. He took my breath away.
My first experience of so many keeping me upright, my feet walking in diamonds.
I pick up my frame in the morning, has it only been 24 hrs? I tell the angelic framer the painting’s history; 23 paintings, one a day, gouache on imperial mounting board, tracing my experience after a friend killed himself . I had had a warning dream with a day’s notice. Unable to get to him in that day, I arrived early the next morning, and he had just been found, the needle still hanging from his arm (GP prescription).
Years later I burnt all paintings except one. I am revisiting myself and painting anew.
‘Every painting has a story’, I finished, almost in tears, surprising myself.
‘Only the good ones,’ said the framer.
So many kindnesses without expectation of material gain, but plenty for their souls, and mine. Yes! A tree was planted. It will grow and grow. I contemplated the contrast between the good and the evil. And why had I spent so much gloomy time contemplating hurt? Then because of the angels, stopped doing it and I forgot the cold-hearted, hot tempered past.
Oh, yes, a local artist was spoken of by both the framer and the two women in the church. I was no longer isolated. Perhaps one day, we’ll meet.