“Mosaic” is a book by Amy Grant which I read this past year.
It came out two or three years ago, and it is one I will go back and reread parts from time to time. Early in her writings she talks about her dad. When she starts to speak of him, she finds herself asking, “What do I reference? How do I tell others about him especially those who never knew him with the significance in which I want them to know him?”
This past Saturday morning, I sat in my coffee shop with my niece’s two sons, Adam and Evan, ages 21 and 19, along with one of their girlfriends. I was confronted with the same question that Amy Grant often asked herself. My brother, the grandfather of these two boys, died at age 35, when I was 25; they have never seen him. I found myself referencing the fact that their grandfather was buried on their mother’s fifth birthday. How does one find words to give another a picture of what took place in another time. To describe what he was like? Hard.
In Grant’s book, she tells the story of visiting Sara Cannon, better known in country music circles as Cousin Minnie Pearl, a country comedian. Grant said Miss Minnie did not have much time to live, and, as Amy sat with her on the side of her bed, Minnie asked her a question: “Do you know the most important color in an artist palette?” Minnie went on to tell her that the most important color for an artist was the color black. “Without black, there is no depth; without black, everything can appear, ‘flat.’ For you see, when black outlines any color, you can paint an object so real that you’ll want to reach out and touch it.”
As time passes, I find myself reaching for “black.” I want them to fully know, understand in some way, even feel a bit of what once was that they never got to see or experience. I wanted them to see the full and complete picture of that loved one, that friend; otherwise, it is just bits and pieces, fragments.
I think you can see my point. “I wanted especially those two boys to see him (my brother, their mother’s father and their grandfather) in the light and times I did.” I wanted to find that artist’s palette and pull out the color black. But it is not easy to do. So badly we need that favorite color to give depth to what we hope will be understood.
“For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost.”
November 17, 2011