The month of February is dominated by thoughts of love, as the world celebrates St. Valentine. There are an abundance of songs and poems eloquently expressing fondness for another, but what of those that haven’t felt the expression of love directed toward them? Although the following story is about Christmas, its message is meant for the celebration of the heart.
The Colors of Love by Heather Molans
My father grew up in Jersey City, the son of an immigrant type setter and his wife who had left Scotland to find work first in Canada and then in the United States. Grandfather was a man’s man; a champion soccer player and bar room brawler. His sons were expected to follow his lead. He enjoyed taking long walks, and would frequently take one of his two sons with him.
It was on one of those excursions that my father spotted something in a shop window that drew him like a magnet. A rainbow of colors seemed to dance within a metal paint box. Two paint brushes were nestled into a well beside the paint in the box. He pressed his face up against the frosty glass of the window for a better look, and pointed out his find to his father.
Grandfather scowled and explained that paint boxes were not suitable equipment for young men. Reluctantly, Daddy took a last look at the paint box, and followed his father home.
From then on, Grandfather didn’t have to ask for a volunteer to walk with him. Every day daddy eagerly awaited the appointed walking hour and accompanied his father. Just walking past the paint box was a thrill to him. He would run ahead as they drew near the shop so that he could spend just a few moments with his beloved paint box.
Just before Christmas, it was gone! He stood in front of the window and couldn’t hide his unmanly tears from his suddenly compassionate father. Grandfather put his arms around his son and explained that someone with more money than they had probably purchased it as a gift, and Daddy should try to imagine the other person’s happiness upon receiving it. The walks became almost unbearable for Daddy. He kept going because it was a chance to spend time with his father, who seemed to like him least of all of his four surviving children. He felt a deep sadness as they passed the shop window with its small, empty space right in front where the paint box had been. He kept hoping that maybe the person that bought it would change his or her mind and return it, but the spot remained empty.
Christmas morning the family gathered around the tree. There wasn’t ever much to expect in a hard-working immigrant family. Loving family members knitted sweaters and mittens, and there were special penny candies and treats that were saved for special occasions. But this Christmas was different. Under the tree there was one long package wrapped in colorful Christmas paper. All eyes were riveted to it. Grandfather leaned over and picked it up, saying “Bobby, this is for you.”
Could it be? Surely not. But the size… the shape… Daddy tore the paper off, knowing but not knowing, afraid of the disappointment if it weren’t. There in his shaking hands was a long metal box. He ran his hand across the smooth surface, savoring the moment, before gingerly lifting the lid. A rainbow of color shimmered through his tears; not for the beauty of his precious gift, but because for once, this least favorite child knew what it felt like to be loved. Fast forward, WW11 was raging. My now artist father was about to enter the US Army, when he met my artist /writer mother. They met and married in Greenwich Village, NY. Although my father became a bookkeeper for a major insurance company, he went to night school and graduated with a degree from Cooper Union Fine Arts. He painted as a hobby. He received a medical discharge from the army and went to art school on the GI Bill to learn mural painting. He continued painting throughout his lifetime, until Glaucoma took his eyesight. I remember hearing my parents discuss whether they thought I’d be an artist or a writer! They elected to allow me to develop (or not)on my own with no teaching or influence from them. I have skipped through the meadows of experience offered by life, pausing to form words to illustrate the impressions of my heart, and when words fail, swirl color and emotion to create what words cannot say.
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SedonaKind meets the 3rd Friday of each Month from September to May. We meet at the Sedona Library in West Sedona at 10:00a.m. We ask that only fully Covid vaccinated individuals attend.