Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An artist is born....

Our three sons were all different from each other, and I suspect that no matter how many children there are in a family, there are probably no two alike, unless there are identical twins, and I think even they probably have differences. Our firstborn was quiet and one of those rare naturally compliant children (I'm sure he takes after his mama!). For parental wisdom with our second son, I purchased Dr. James Dobson’s book, “The Strong-Willed Child.” (Thinking of my last post about family resemblances, I just ordered the updated version of that book to refresh my memory now that “number two” son has a son with a very similar personality!) You know, I don’t know why, but I can’t put my finger on a specific reason that Duane was so different from the other two. I just know he was.

 But, there were several areas in which they were very much alike. None liked cleaning their room. (Actually, you could barely see their carpet.) None of them particularly liked school. (OK, school was horrible for at least two of them. They just wanted to get through it. Is that a “boy thing?” I liked school and always had to excel, not just pass….had to be #1.) They all were fun-loving, and the three of them together was quite a treat! I thought they’d make a great team for a disk jockey business. And they are all artists. All three began drawing at an early age. Chris studied art in college, he created many highly detailed drawings (especially of automobiles) and now he applies his talents in his construction business. Darren drew smiley stick figures on every wall in the house when he was first learning to draw, as an adult he applied his artistic bent in the study of taxidermy, and now it shows up in his perfectly laid out plumbing projects. He also has writing skills, and I suspect he would excel in drama, too. He has this incredible ability to memorize complicated lyrics effortlessly, including songs like Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

 Of course, now that I want to quote something from it, I can’t find Duane’s story book/journal that he wrote at the end of eighth grade. I think he wrote about the coloring contest that he entered at Highlights for Children when I worked there, and that he said that’s when he knew that he loved art. He was three or four years old at the time. I will come across that journal when I am not looking for it. That’s the way it works, right?
I just recently noticed how Duane was “cutting up” in nearly all of the photos I took of him. When Mike and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a family dinner at the Western Hotel in Callicoon, NY, we had a nice photo of the five of us taken. There was Duane in the front with his eyes wide open and crossed as far as he could cross them.
That was an indication of the comedian in him, and if you saw him in “Clockwork,” his acting debut at Hancock Central School, you know how funny he was. He was in the tenth grade, and although he didn’t have a starring role, he made himself the center of attention in his role as Monroe Dunwoody, the family drunk. Here he is, making his grand entrance, bottle in hand, on his way from the door to the floor! I obtained a copy of that play on a VCR tape from the school, and a great friend transferred it to DVD for me. What a treasure!

A former boss of mine used to say that every person is like a box of Cracker Jacks. Each has a prize inside and you just have to find it. Some prizes are more easily found than others. Sometimes the prize is right at the top of the box, but sometimes it’s buried in the bottom. Duane’s was pretty close to the top; he knew what it was when he entered that Highlights for Children coloring contest, and his first grade teachers mentioned his artistic abilities in a note they wrote to me. Throughout his school years, he was always doodling, no matter what class he was in. He had numerous sketch pads, all partially filled. Someone once asked him where he studied art, and was surprised to learn that his only formal training was high school art classes.

 Just as we inherit traits from our parents and other ancestors that cause us to resemble them, so we have things in our spiritual DNA that give us characteristics of our Heavenly Father, or “Papa,“ as I like to call Him. He fashions us and molds us. Papa put some of His creativity inside of Duane and those talents were used to bless people in various ways. I’ll share his art and talk more about that in days to come.

You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well…..You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. Psalm 139:13, 14, 16. (NCV)



  1. When I read your blog, I feel like I am sitting across your kitchen table from you drinking a great cup of coffee and listening to these great stories.

  2. Ah, good. That's how I want it to be. Thanks! :-)

  3. I love reading your blog, Donna! Sharing stories of Duane to those of us who miss him, is so wonderfully comforting. Love does go on...and Duane had alot of that to give. Please keep writing; nothing is more powerful than the testimony of one's life... love, Sue

  4. Thank you, Sue - your encouragement means a lot!